A man allegedly attempted to burglarize the home where Billie Eilish and her brother and songwriting collaborator Finneas O’Connell grew up Thursday night, and a crime reporting app disclosed her address to tens of thousands of users when it sent out a push alert about the incident.
According to ABC 7, the Los Angeles Police Department responded around 9:15 pm PT to a 911 call reporting a man in dark clothing hopping over a fence at a residence in the Highland Park neighborhood.
Video footage from local media outlets and social media users showed police arresting the suspect and searching for evidence at the home, which is still owned by Eilish’s parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, according to public records.
Eilish, 21, lived with her parents at that address until moving out in 2019, but told Rolling Stone that she often spends the night in her childhood bedroom. The home is where Eilish and her brother Finneas created and recorded her first album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which launched her to stardom and raked in the awards, including three Grammys and the Apple Music Awards Album of the Year.
In that Rolling Stone interview, Eilish revealed that she had been forced to hire security whenever she wanted to stay at the home after the address was previously leaked online, calling it a “really traumatizing” experience. “I completely don’t feel safe in my house anymore, which sucks,” said Eilish. “I love my house.”
A “quick-thinking house sitter” was responsible for foiling the attempted burglary, reported TMZ, after receiving an electronic alert and seeing an unknown person on camera at the property and calling 911. None of Eilish’s family members were home at the time of the incident and representatives for Eilish did not respond to media outlets’ requests for comment.
Police investigators told reporters that the suspect was arrested about a block from the property on suspicion of burglary and they do not believe anything was stolen from the home. The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, was reportedly wearing all black clothing and a black mask.
The reporting of the incident at the Eilish family home in automatic push notifications from the crime reporting app Citizen (previously known as Vigilante) raised eyebrows.
Citizen’s incident log as shown on their website currently includes video submitted by nearby residents and a list of events starting with the 9:16 pm PT 911 call, the “possible burglary suspect” running from the residence at 9:27 pm PT, police confronting the suspect and “fighting” with him at 9:31 pm PT, and taking him into custody shortly thereafter.
“According to police, the home belongs to celebrity popstar Billie Eilish,” said the 9:41 pm PT entry, followed by an early Friday morning notation that the address for the incident had been changed from an exact address to a cross street.
The push notification including the home’s precise location and Eilish’s name (plus labeling her as “celebrity popstar” to further emphasize the point) was sent out to 178,000 people and viewed by nearly 78,000, reported Vice in an article headlined, “Citizen App Doxes Billie Eilish’s Family Home to Tens of Thousands of People.”
The app, wrote Vice’s Anna Merlan, has been taking a “more laissez faire approach to privacy,” which has “occasionally had intensely negative real-world results.” In May 2021, Citizen CEO Andrew Frame urged users of the app to join a “fumbling, dangerous manhunt” to track down an arsonist who started a wildfire in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, reported Merlan, including putting “a $30,000 bounty on the wrong person.”
There’s a highly-active market for celebrity addresses, and, as noted above, Eilish’s address was previously uncovered and posted online. “But sending a push notification to tens of thousands of users informing them of a celebrity’s purported address represents a new and potentially troubling way of mediating the public’s relationship with that information,” wrote Merlan.
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