Study: Reality TV Causes Crime — Really!

Laguna Beach crime went up after “Laguna Beach” aired.

Last Updated: July 29, 2010 @ 1:01 PM

Did “Laguna Beach” caused a crime spree in Laguna Beach?

According to Occidental College assistant professors of economics Lesley Chiou and Mary Lopez, the answer is a quantified Yes.

The L.A.-based academics — and admitted fans of the MTV reality show — conducted a study of the California town. The duo has concluded that the worst fears of residents proved true: Since the show debuted in 2004, rapes and non-residential burglaries rose steadily.

Now, star Lauren Conrad herself obviously wasn’t the cause of the problems, but the study believes the attention the show — which was canceled in 2006 — drew to the town was. 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.)

Residential burglary did not go up, but in a town of gated communities that makes sense.

Of course, with “Laguna Beach” no longer on TV, the real question is what does this mean for “Jersey Shore” — both the show and the locale? 

Is someone going to B&E the Situation’s abs? Is someone going to study that next?