Reality TV Brings Crime to the Real OC, Says Study; But so Do Our Reality TV Criminals

Guns don't kill people, only you can prevent forest fires and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County causes crime to spike in Laguna Beach: the real Orange County city.

The latter bit is wisdom comes from two Occidental College professors who crunched the crime data and now say rapes and non-residential burglaries jumped in Laguna Beach after MTV's unreal reality show debuted Sept. 28, 2004.

Assistant professors of economics Lesley Chiou and Mary Lopez, who are admitted fans of the show, say the attention it brought to the former low-crime burg was not just confined to pimple-popping pubescents. Laguna Beach; The Real Orange County also drew the real attention of bad guys and gals, the profs' study concludes.

According to The Wrap wrap-up on the study:

Rapes went up .013 for every 1,000 residents in the 24,000 people town per month and there was a further two non-residential burglaries every month.

The study, which will be published in the usually staid Economic Letters journal on Aug. 2, looked at crime rates in Laguna Beach and seemingly unaffected neighboring Dana Point from 2002 to 2006. Specifically, Chiou and Lopez analyzed nine primary categories burglary, residential burglary, non-residential burglary, robbery, residential robbery, non-residential robbery, rape, auto theft and larceny. (The study was first reported by AOL News.)

Upcoming Events

Considering the low-crime rates Orange County neighborhoods where reality TV cameras roll used to enjoy, perhaps the spikes can be attributed to the arrests of cast members themselves.

Then 19-year-od Jessica Smith of season two fame was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs after allegedly causing an injury crash on the Santa Ana Freeway in March 2007. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Alex Murrel, a season two cast mate of Smith's, had her rented Laguna Beach house raided by the DEA in March 2009. Officials carted off her boyfriend for felony possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and it was later determined Peruvian Renzo Gamboa was in the country illegally.

But no one from the show beats Jason Wahler who, speaking of beating, was arrested this past June for misdemeanor battery after allegedly striking a woman at a Hollywood party. Wahler, who also appeared on the Laguna Beach spin-off The Hills, had been arrested six other times in recent years, mostly for DUI. He also lost a civil case stemming from a beat down he gave a tow-truck driver in 2006. He's now positioning himself for a Celebrity Rehab stint.

Dr. Drew should also hold a bed open for Josh Waring, the son of Lauri Waring Peterson of The Real Housewives of Orange County. He's currently being held without bail in Orange Couty Jail for violating parole.

He may have passed Matt Keough in an Orange County Jail hall. The former Oakland A's pitcher, who appeard on The Real Housewives with his now-ex-wife, former Playboy centerfold Jeana Keough, and their three teenage children, recently pleaded guilty to DUI and was sent to jail for the second time.

Then there's Slade Smiley, another Real Housewives husband, who was busted on a warrant that accused him of failing to pay child support for a kid of his with a brain tumor.

Ah, and don't forget Ryan Alexander Jenkins, the contestant from the unaired VH1 reality show Megan Wants a Millionaire, who butchered his wife, swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore, and stuffed her in a Garden Grove dumpster before committing suicide in his native Canada.

Unfortunately, locals must continue living with The Real Housewives' crime menace.(It's mostly shot in Rancho Santa Margarita.) But after Laguna Beach wandered in season 3, the MTV crews moved out of town and went up coast to capture Newport Beach high school students for Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County, which premiered Aug. 15, 2007 and lasted only one season.

Maybe the Occidental professors' sequel will tell us how crime jumped there, too.

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >