Australia is in the grip of a strange clown sighting phenomenon, with police indicating that they will not tolerate this sort of anti-social behaviour.
The creepy clown phenomenon appears to have started in the US state of South Carolina, with participants dressing up as clowns with the aim of scaring unsuspecting victims. Reports from the area claimed that clowns were trying to lure children into the woods.
Sightings of creepy clowns soon spread to Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania and other parts of North America. A school in Texas even went into lockdown after two separate clown incidents.
The trend was initially rumoured to be part of promoting the remake of Stephen King’s It but production studio New Line quickly denied the reports. Many of the incidents and sightings in the US were hoaxes, but several arrests were made.
The craze seems to have spread to Australia via social media, with clown purge Facebook groups springing up across the country. The intention of the groups seems to be purely to scare people. Clowns have been spotted in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, with photos of the incidents posted on social media.
“The clown purge appears to be a copycat of incidents being seen in the US,” Victoria Police wrote on Facebook in response to a comment from a concerned parent. “Any intimidating or threatening, as well as anti-social behaviours will not be tolerated and will be investigated. Please contact your local police station if you have any concerns.”
Police arrested a 19-year-old man in Northam, northeast of Perth after he chased a group of girls near a shopping centre while dressed as a clown. He was charged withdisorderly behaviour and possession of a disguise.
A Perth woman reportedly hit a pedestrian dressed as a clown on Tonkin Highway in Champion Lakes just after midnight on Sunday. Despite a police search the person was not located.
“It is important to remember that dressing as a clown isn’t against the law, however should a person engage in activity that is criminal, anti-social or threatening towards other people, police will investigate,” a police spokesperson said.
Two twelve-year-old Adelaide girls were approached by a man dressed as a clown in the CBD on Saturday night. According to The Advertiser the clown attacked her and tried to steal her phone. The girls were accompanied by a parent who kicked the clown, and the group ran into a nearby Hungry Jack’s.
“Police are aware of recent reports from interstate and overseas concerning situations where people have dressed up as clowns and have randomly attempted to scare or threaten others,” a South Australian police spokeswoman said.
“This has occurred primarily in public places. It is being called the ‘Clown Purge’. Police would like to emphasise to those who may intend to engage in this kind of behaviour, for whatever intention, that it could potentially result in danger to them or other members of the public.”
Many of the creepy clown Facebook pages do not seem to be connected to actual clown sightings, and seem to only exist to frighten people. Opposing groups have also sprung up on Facebook to track down the alleged clowns.
Rather than taking to social media when they spot a clown, people should instead report the incident to their local police station.