It’s a modern case of mass hysteria in the making. At least 12 states across the U.S. have been invaded by reports of terrifying clowns. While some reports simply state that pranksters have been walking around in clown costumes scaring people, other reports are no laughing matter.

Dozens of claims about the menacing clowns have poured in from across the nation since August 2016.

August 1 – Greenbay, Wisconsin

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A clown was reported strolling ominously through the streets of Wisconsin carrying black balloons. Though the clown had not threatened anyone, pictures appeared across social media and caused alarm to some of the local residents. It was later learned that “Gags the Clown” is part of a promotion for an independent movie due out for Halloween.

August 30 – Greenville, South Carolina

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Kids reported clowns attempting to lure them into the woods. The Fleetwood Manor apartment complex —  located near the woods were the clowns were allegedly spotted —  took the threat serious enough to issue a letter to their residents, particularly those with children, to be on alert.

September 4 – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem police said they were increasing patrols after they received reports from two children claiming that clowns attempted to lure them into the woods with candy.

September 12 – LaGrange, Georgia

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Police took to social media to alert LaGrange residents that they had received a number of complaints about clowns attempting to talk to children.

September 13 – LaGrange, Georgia

Two people were arrested for dialing 911 and filing a false report about clowns attempting to lure children into a van. Police investigated and found no evidence of any clown-related activity within the area. The couple later admitted that they had made up the story.

LaGrange police have since issued four other arrest warrants for false clown reports.

September 13 – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

A man was arrested after filing a report that a clown had been knocking on his window. Turns out that report was false.

September 15 – Flomation, Georgia

Police arrest 22-year-old Makayla Smith and two juveniles for making threats from Facebook accounts belonging to “Flomo Klown” and “Shoota Cllown.” Flomation High School was put on lockdown due to the threats and the perpetrators were quickly apprehended for making terrorist threats.

September 20 – Annapolis, Maryland

Four students between the ages of 7 and 9 reported that they had been chased by a clown on their way to school. After police interviewed the children, they confessed that the story was false.

September 20 – Middlesboro, Kentucky

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20-year-old Jonathan Martin was arrested after he was spotted in full clown regalia crouched down near an apartment building around 1 AM. When police attempted to apprehend Martin he ran towards a vehicle in a nearby parking lot. He was promptly apprehended. Martin has been charged with disorderly conduct, wearing a hood or mask in a public place, as well as two outstanding warrants for unrelated offenses.

September 21 – Coffee County, Tennessee

Coffee County Sheriff’s Department was contacted by a teen who claimed a clown had attacked him with a knife. In a press conference, County Sheriff Steve Graves urges people not to dress up as a clown for Halloween and to avoid clown-related pranks altogether.

“People in Tennessee carry guns and somebody jumping out and scaring someone is subject to getting shot …”

Police are still working on confirming the teen’s claims.

September 21 – Beauregard, Alabama

The 16-year-old owner of the “Kaleb Klown” account was placed under arrest after threatening to go to a local school with a firearm. The teen was charged with making terrorist threats.

September 21 – Tchula, Mississippi

A person called to report a clown walking around with a machete. When police arrived to investigate the claim the unknown clown fled before police were able to question their motives.

September 21 – Athens, GA

A girl was placed under arrest after it was discovered she had taken a knife to school. The girl said she was terrified of clowns and had heard the reports of clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children. She is now being charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds.

September 22 – Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Police received reports of clowns in a van yelling at children before driving off. Police suspect that it may have been a prank, brought on by the recent clown reports in the news.

September 24 – Fort Defiance, Virginia

Police reported numerous calls about clown sightings throughout the week. Augusta County sheriffs made a statement to remind people that it is prohibited for anyone over the age of 16 to wear a mask to disguise their identity and to encourage people not to dress as clowns or engage in this form of behavior.

September 25 – Salisbury, Maryland

Police have been investigating reports of people in clown masks lurking in bushes. Police suspect it’s kids trying to scare people. Members of the Shriners clown troupe say they will sit out of this year’s Halloween parade, due to the increase in reports of threatening clowns in the area.

September 25 – Palm Bay, Florida

Kelly Reynolds had been walking her dog near a wooded area when she claims she spotted two clowns staring at her. She wasn’t sure if the clowns were attempting to scare her or meant to do her harm. She ran home as fast as she could and alerted police right away. Police combed the woods but could not locate the clowns.

September 26 — York, Pennsylvania

Police have issued a safety warning after received reports that clowns were spotted stalking the York College campus. Police say they had responded to eight reports since the 24th.

“The ‘Creepy Clown’ phenomena has spread throughout the country since this past summer. In multiple states, people have been reporting seeing clowns standing on the side of roads at night, in parking lots, outside schools and near the woods. Law Enforcement have dubbed these reports as nothing more than pranks meant to scare people. While it is important to understand that these reports involve mostly copy-cat thrill seekers, it is possible someone will use this as an opportunity to commit a crime in the future. While responding to these reports has been draining on law enforcement resources, it is still important to report these sightings so officers can confirm that there is no threat. It is advised to avoid anyone dressed like a clown in odd areas. With Halloween approaching, it is expected that sightings will increase. Campus Safety will alert the campus community in the event any real threat is confirmed.”

September 27 – Greenville, Ohio

Police received a call from a man claiming he had been chased down the street by two clowns. The man, who happened to have a baseball bat, struggled with the clowns before they ran off with his bat. The man sustained several injuries, but refused medical treatment.

September 27 – Zanesville, Ohio

Zanesville police say that they have received five reports about suspicious clowns roaming the town, including two men who claimed that a clown chased them with a machete. None of the reports have been substantiated and the sheriff has since issued a warning that anyone seen dressed as a clown will be charged with inciting a public panic and anyone caught filing a false report will be placed under arrest.

September 28 – Reading, Pennsylvania

16-year-old Christian Torres was stabbed to death when a burglar wearing a clown mask broke into his home. There are few details known in this case, except that at some point the men had an altercation. So far no arrests have been made as police continue to work on the case.

September 28 – Martinsburg, Pennsylvania

An 18-year-old is being questioned after he was found prowling around his neighbor’s home wearing a clown mask and brandishing an airsoft gun. The teen admitted to rapping on the windows and frightening the tenants.

September 29 – Rolla, Missouri

A Rolla police officer who had been investigating local reports of clown attacks came to the conclusion that they were all a hoax. The officer assured the public that there were no homicidal clowns roaming the city, but he had heard reports of a, “mime stuck in a box who may still be in need of assistance.”

September 29 – Hamilton County, Ohio

Seven teens were arrested for clown-related threats towards local schools on social media. The juveniles, who considered the threats a joke, are now finding themselves in serious hot water. The students have all been charged with making terrorist threats. Prosecutors hope that it will send a clear message that such threats will not be tolerated.

September 29 – Attica, New York

Rumors that there were clowns wandering the streets of Attica left a town on-edge. Police were forced to issue a statement assuring residents the reports may have been the result of some kids walking down the street in clown masks and were not cause for alarm. No clowns were spotted and no arrests have been made.

September 30 – Reading, Ohio

An Ohio school district was forced to close schools after a woman claimed she was attacked by a clown. The woman told police that the clown had made threats against the students. The woman who made the report, Kim Youngblood, said she was on her porch smoking a cigarette when a male dressed as a clown grabbed her by the throat. No one has been charged in the attack.

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A Twitter account calling themselves “Clown Clan” was suspected to have been linked to the attack, but after investigating police believe the account is a hoax.

September 30 – Long Island, NY

After a week of clown reports popping up throughout Long Island, including a man dressed as a clown jumping in front of cars, one school district decided to close school for Friday September 30th. Though police believe the clowns are pranksters, they are reminding folks that filing false reports and inciting a public panic will be taken seriously.

September 30 – Newport News, Virginia

Newport News police are increasing patrols in several local schools after threats were made from clown accounts on social media. Though police believe the threats are a hoax, they are taking the matter seriously and intend to prosecute anyone making false claims about clown attacks or making threats.

September 30 – Houston, Texas

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Threats from a Facebook group called “Aint Clowin Around” prompted administrators at Westside High School to issue letters to parents ensuring them that the threats were believed by police to be a hoax. The threats made on the social media page, which is now inactive, threatened to kidnap students and incite violence within the schools. The schools listed, including Westside High School, ordered more police patrols and placed the schools on lockdown as a precaution.

September 30 – Colerain Township, Ohio

A teenager has been arrested after he was inspired by the viral clown trend to intimidate and threaten other students at Colerain High School. He has been charged with making terrorist threats and inducing panic.

September 30 – Montgomery, Ohio

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Five teens were placed under arrest after engaging with a Twitter account called “Clown Clan,” which threatens violence and terrorism against various high schools around Southern Ohio. According to reports, the teens allegedly asked the clowns to come to their schools and wreak havoc.

 

France was subjected to their own creepy clown hysteria in 2014 and vigilante anti-clown groups were organized to combat the problem. The epidemic crossed the pond to California that same year, where pranksters terrorized towns in and around Bakersfield. The popularity of shows like American Horror Story: Freakshow, in conjunction with the availability of clown costumes, gave rise to the trend.

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With the remake of Stephen King’s IT in the works and the pending United States release of Rob Zombie’s 31 this year, the popularity of scary clowns this Halloween season is on the rise. It’s important to note that most of these stories have been unsubstantiated. It’s safe to say that most of these cases are most likely the result of pranksters and not cause for alarm. Police suspect that the clown sightings will decline once Halloween is over.