When news broke on Tuesday that the ring of cat burglars behind a succession of celebrity home robberies wasn’t composed of hardened criminals but, allegedly, four teenagers, we assume everyone had the same reaction we did: Is this for real? Plenty of sensational stories come out of Hollywood, but it’s rare that the people who star in movies and TV shows find themselves actually living lead roles in a true-crime story that sounds like it was written for them. Our brains hurt just trying to follow that logic through the looking glass; suddenly, we’re smack in the middle of an era where not only is truth stranger than fiction, but the two are so closely interwoven that we half expect to wake up tomorrow and find out that Chuck Bass is real and dating Tinsley Mortimer.
Consider it: Lauren Conrad is executive-producing a movie based on the quasi-fictional book she wrote about her actual experiences on a mostly made-up TV show. We’ve spent a week or two tracking the exploits of a kid whose seemingly real runaway-balloon tragedy turned out to be a fake crisis but a real ploy for a TV show based on the fakery. The supposedly true shenanigans of the teen cat burglars already reads like a synopsis for a far-fetched screenplay: A gaggle of girls is accused of masterminding a nearly yearlong crime spree — which investigators suspect has yielded millions of dollars in stolen goods — in which the girls allegedly used their addiction to magazines and gossip blogs to case the various celebrity joints via photographs. It’s like Sugar and Spice meets Ocean’s Eleven, with a dash of The Babysitters Club’s entrepreneurial spirit and a soupçon of Robin Hood. Except that it actually happened. To the likes of Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan, among others. Which is where the suspicion of fiction comes in: For a long time, rumors flew that LiLo faked these break-ins for attention, or had been burgled by drug dealers to whom she was in debt. Bizarrely, all of those fabrications seemed every bit as plausible as the Tale of the Trellis-Climbing Teens that’s currently making the rounds.
In fact, as juicy as the inevitable movie based on the Hollywood Burglar Bunch is bound to be, it seems that unless they add a dying sibling whose brain fog can only be cured by eating the second hand of a purloined Cartier watch, a dramatized silver-screen send-up wouldn’t hold a candle to the way it has unfolded in actual fact. Especially when said facts include the collusion of a guy who calls himself “Johnny Dangerous” (we know, we didn’t think people pulled stuff like that in real life, either). It’s too perfect: Every merry band of criminals needs a Jean Valjean — someone doing the wrong thing for the right reasons — and conveniently, here we have the one teen thief whose family reportedly was so hard up for cash, the parents pinned their hopes on getting her into a percolating reality show about aspiring actresses, all while she allegedly stole from established ones (and landed a different kind of reality show: Prison Blues, 90210). Of course, any treatment for this story would probably correct the most dramatically amusing and surprising fact of all: The girls didn’t rob anyone with actual taste. Okay, victim Rachel Bilson’s wardrobe is plenty covetable, but no notes-giving studio exec is going to believe four teens would risk their freedom for Audrina Patridge’s ripped jeans, a pair of Lindsay’s knee-padded leggings, or anything belonging to Paris Hilton, except maybe some hand sanitizer. What did they think Brian Austin Green would have lying around — several copies of his rap CD and a David Silver action figure? It’s more plausible that he’d hand over the keys and beg them to finally take that stuff off his hands. When the adaptation of all this incredible malarkey starts making the rounds, TMZ should probably get a story credit.
Obviously, we don’t advocate thievery. Don’t break the law, kids: Stay in school, don’t do drugs, don’t be stalkers, etc. But considering the world’s ravenous appetite for a good old-fashioned semi-true tale of probably real events that sound too crazy to be legit, we just hope these accused cat burglars have good lawyers — both for any criminal charges, and to sell their life rights. And then maybe when they get out of prison, they can write a tell-all book about what it was like to be incarcerated for their misguided teen crimes, someone will make a TV series out of it, they’ll get rich, then some enterprising hooligans can steal their silverware, and the cycle can start all over again.