Tom Cruise is latest victim of Los Angeles 'swatting' prank

Armed police rush to actor's home in Beverly Hills to tackle 'gunman' – but it is yet another hoax call

LAST UPDATED AT 14:11 ON Fri 18 Jan 2013

TOM CRUISE has become the latest victim of Hollywood's new celebrity-baiting craze, 'swatting', after armed police descended on his Beverly Hills estate following reports of a gunman in the grounds.

Officers rushed to the actor's home on Thursday after a 911 caller claimed that there was an armed robbery going on. But Beverly Hills police later released a statement admitting that "no emergency was discovered" at the property and they were "investigating the incident as a crime due to the false report".

Staff at the actor's estate were reportedly caught off guard by the response. "The only ones home were Cruise's security team and personal chef, all of whom had no idea what was going on when the crew of police and SWAT officers appeared," said the Daily Mail.

Inevitably, celebrity website TMZ was on the case and ran pictures of police at the gates of the property.

Cruise is just the latest big name to fall victim to the swatting craze. In October police responded to prank calls about incidents at the homes of Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, and a 12-year-old was later arrested.

But in recent weeks other celebrities have also been targeted, including Charlie Sheen, Miley Cyrus and Simon Cowell.

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton declared himself unimpressed by the latest stunt. "The prank, which has become known as 'swatting', is simply calling in a false report about a house to get it raided by police. It's also a crime," he said. "The real victims are the police, whose time is wasted, and all the real victims they could have been helping."

And the LAPD are concerned as well. According to TMZ, police fear that "if the pranks continue, it's only a matter of time before an innocent person is mistaken for a phantom shooter and gets shot to death". · 

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