Some consider it harmless, pre-Halloween fun, but for many the ‘killer clowns’ craze is genuinely frightening.
Now North Yorkshire Police have stepped in after a spate of sightings in the county.
The idea of the evil clown has been around for a long time – Pennywise, the antagonist in Stephen King’s horror novel It, wormed his way into the collective conscience 30 years ago.
So no one is quite sure why all of a sudden people have started taking to the streets dressed as creepy clowns, frightening children and older people alike.
The phenomenon, which started in the States, has now reached York.
A pair of youths dressed in masks, one of them carrying a baseball bat, frightened two 11-year-old boys near Westfield Primary School in Acomb on Monday (October 10).
And a primary school-aged boy in Strensall was seen dressed as a clown, jumping out at people and shouting at them.
Could be a criminal offence
These were just two of at least eight incidents of ‘killer clowns’ reported to the police from across North Yorkshire in a single night.
Others were seen jumping out or chasing people in Selby, Northallerton, Skipton and Scarborough.
It resulted in the police asking parents to warn their children of the consequences of trying to frighten people.
A force spokeswoman said:
It could also constitute a criminal offence if you frighten or threaten other people. The same applies regardless of what kind of mask you are wearing, if you set out to frighten or alarm people, you could be committing an offence.
Police advice to anyone who is frightened or alarmed by anyone else, “regardless of what they are wearing”, is:
- report the incident to the police on 101
- if your safety is threatened, call the police on 999.
The spokeswoman added: “Please keep an eye out for your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours, especially at this time of the year when the nights are darker and Halloween is approaching.”