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Lindsay Lohan and the Great Necklace Caper

March 6th, 2011 by Jessika

Lindsay Lohan (Photo by avrilllllla via Flickr)

Lindsay Lohan’s name has become synonymous with scandal. In the past four years alone, Lindsay has had two DUIs, multiple trips to rehab, jail time, lawsuits, and very public fights with her father. But her most recent run in with the law is her most serious yet.

In January, the district attorney charged Lindsay with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a $2500 necklace from the Venice, Calif. jewelry store Kamofie & Company. If she is convicted, she could face up to three years in prison, and even more jail time is possible if she is found to have violated her probation.

I first read about Lindsay’s most recent trouble on TMZ. The entertainment website had reported that Kamofie & Company had paid a visit to the police station after the necklace had not been returned. Owners of the store handed over surveillance video (without audio) to the authorities showing Lindsay walking out of the store with the necklace. Then, paparazzi photos soon surfaced of Lindsay wearing the necklace outside of the store. It wasn’t until a judge issued a search warrant for Lindsay’s apartment that the necklace appeared at the police station. Throughout the ordeal, Lindsay has maintained her innocence, saying the store lent her the necklace and that her assistant simply forgot to return it.

After reading accounts of the incident, several red flags went up. I couldn’t wrap my head around how stupid Lindsay would have to be to steal that necklace. With all of the legal trouble she was in, it just didn’t make sense that she would risk more problems for a piece of jewelry. In addition, it seemed rather unlikely the storeowner would let Lindsay walk out of the store with the necklace on unless it had been loaned to her. Granted, Lindsay had multiple necklaces on at once so it is possible the owner didn’t realize she was still wearing it when she walked out. But the necklace was rather large so it’s hard for me to believe the other jewelry around Lindsay’s neck completely hid the store’s necklace.

As the case unfolded on TMZ and other news outlets, more and more questions were raised. One of the store’s owners, Kaman, changed her story about what happened the day of the incident. First, Kaman said Lindsay took the necklace off and put it in her purse. The next day, though, Kaman changed her tune, saying she watched the surveillance video again and she realized Lindsay still had the necklace on when she left the store. Later on, the owners also admitted they didn’t want to press charges against Lindsay. But the DA proceeded with the charges anyway.

A few days ago Kamofie & Company sold the surveillance video to Entertainment Tonight. A store representative said the video was sold because the paparazzi and the media have flocked to the store, deterring customers from coming in and causing the store to lose money. This claim seems odd, though. All of the media attention should bring people to the store. Something just doesn’t make sense, especially since the DA warned the owners that selling the tape could hurt the case. Lindsay’s camp, of course, was happy with Kamofie & Company’s sale, saying it showed they were taking advantage of her for money and publicity.

Kamofie & Company isn’t the only entity to use the starlet’s allegedly sticky fingers to their advantage. Many media outlets have used the case to drum up page views and ratings, raising some fundamental issues.

Take the New York Daily News for example. The site not only put together a slideshow chronicling Lindsay’s recent antics but they mention Lindsay in some form or another in more than 40 stories since February. A search for “Lindsay Lohan” yields 888 results on the news site. TMZ has reported on Lindsay even more than the New York Daily News with a search of her name producing 1,850 results.

Entertainment Tonight went a step further than the other outlets when they paid a hefty sum for Kamofie & Company’s surveillance footage. They have already showed the footage on their show, and on the show’s website feature the footage in not one, but three places on the front page (the carousel and two boxes on the left-hand side).

While admittedly I have no idea what kind of traffic stories on Lindsay have brought these sites, I do know enough about how internet traffic works (from studying Neon Tommy’s Google analytics) to know that anything celebrity always brings in the page views, especially celebrity train wrecks.

One other factor comes into play for media outlets: being first. Outlets like TMZ and fight to get that scoop. In the process, though, they sometimes sacrifice accuracy. In TMZ’s attempt to report every little detail about the case, they have occasionally reported something that later turns out to be wrong. When the Kamofie & Company case was first brought to the DA, TMZ originally speculated that Lindsay wouldn’t likely be charged. But, of course, that turned out to be incorrect.

So, between the red flags from the case itself and the over-reporting of some media outlets, does Lindsay come out on top? No. While some people like me may tune in every day to TMZ to see the case unfold. Others may tune out because they are sick of all of the coverage. Whether Lindsay stole the necklace or not doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that celebrity sells, and until it doesn’t, more companies and media outlets will take advantage of that, keeping Lindsay and other celebrities in the news for years to come.

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