What once was a police annoyance in Southern California – thrill-seeking pranksters filing false reports of a breaking horrific crime at celebrity's home, designed to provoke the dispatch of SWAT teams – has turned into a full-blown “swatting” epidemic, drawing expressions of concerns from police officials and victims alike, and the promise of a crackdown by police and legislators, says the New York Times. Yesterday, Ryan Seacrest became the latest victim of a swatting prank. The Beverly Hills Police Department received a late-afternoon false report that a group of armed men was trying to break into his estate. It was the sixth time in a week that the police had scrambled to respond to a report of violence at the home of a celebrity. Calls, said one officer, can “paint a very horrific scene inside the house, describing a very uncontrolled scene.” The rash of hoaxes has put a strain on police departments struggling with budget cuts. It puts officers in danger as they race up the narrow streets in the neighborhoods where celebrities tend to live, or when they confront celebrities’ armed private security forces.