A national craze of “creepy clowns” being spotted in public began a few months ago throughout the East Coast, and now just 3 weeks before Halloween, they have made their way to the Central Valley.
“Creepy clowns” is a phenomenon that started in South Carolina sometime around August, according to a news report by Fox11 in Los Angeles.
These clowns roam around different public areas, sometimes to scare or lure children. The trend is growing every day, with some cases leading to individuals being arrested for threatening victims, schools, and college campuses.
Just this month, reports of creepy clown activity have been made in Modesto, Merced, Fresno, and Sacramento, according to KCRA and FOX40.
Skateboarders at Beyer Park in Modesto chased a clown out of the area, as seen on a Twitter video. The Twitter video has garnered 1,500 retweets and 1,800 likes. Facebook posts have also indicated a sighting at the Vintage Faire Mall.
While the legitimacy is contested, the phenomenon and threats have spread to schools and other public areas.
Both Turlock Unified School District and Turlock Police Department have released statements regarding the latest incidences.
TUSD was made aware of “clowning” surfacing “near or about our community.” According to TUSD, they will continue to monitor social media and related threats while working collaboratively with TPD. TUSD identified “clowning” as including dressing up as a scary clown and harassing people; this can also include threats ranging from minor to potentially serious.
“At this time, we have received no threats to our schools but with heightened awareness and vigilance to adult presence on campuses, staff and School Resource Officers will continue to monitor and report any incidents,” TUSD acknowledged on Facebook.
TUSD is encouraging parents to have a conversation with their student(s) about not talking to strangers, and also recommends that all students walk with a group of friends directly to and from school.
If approached by a stranger, students are encouraged not to panic and to run directly to school or home while immediately reporting the incident to a trusted adult, school official, or the police.
TPD has been made aware of these “creepy clown” sightings, and although it is mostly thought to be a prank, officers would like the public to know that the matter is being taken seriously.
The Turlock Police Department wants to bring knowledge of this “trend” to our community and discourages anyone from participating.
If you see something suspicious or an individual threatening harm, please report it as soon as possible by calling Dispatch at (209) 668-1200 for non-emergencies or 9-1-1 for emergencies.