In the midst of the rash of creepy clown sightings plaguing the United States, sales of clown costumes have reportedly skyrocketed. The clown sightings began in a single South Carolina apartment complex in late August, with children claiming that people in creepy clown costumes were trying to lure them into the woods surrounding the complex with promises of candy and money. The phenomenon quickly spread to multiple surrounding states and began to escalate into reports of clowns with knifes and other weapons threatening to harm witnesses.
Despite the dozens of reports of clown sightings filed with police departments across dozens of states, three weeks went by with little evidence that any of the reported clown encounters really happened. Several photos and videos of creepy clown sightings began to appear on social media, but in many instances they were discounted as deliberate hoaxes.
Fast forward to the beginning of October. With Halloween rapidly approaching, the problem of people in creepy clown costumes has exploded. Most recently, western states such as Idaho, Utah, and Oregon have reported creepy clown sightings. In some instances, witnesses are reporting that whoever is dressed in the clown costumes are threatening them with weapons or threatening to abduct children.
In at least one instance, a creepy lurker in a clown costume was arrested. That incident took place in a wooded area outside of a Kentucky apartment complex and involved 20-year-old Jonathan Martin. Decked out in what was described as a “full clown costume,” Martin was charged with wearing a mask in public and disorderly conduct.
Because the clown sightings have become so widespread, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that clown costume sales have reportedly soared versus this time last year. As Fox 13 Now reports, clown costume sales are up a whopping 300 percent from last year. And that’s not all.
Teacher: if you come up to my house in a clown mask I WILL shoot you.— Overlord Misha (@Mrs_Temasfieldt) October 4, 2016
Me: don't miss my head.
I'm just warning people that have the funny idea of dressing like a clown and messing with people ⚠️ I WILL SHOOT YOU ⚠️— Tyler Bartley (@Tydye_95) October 4, 2016
Oklahoma ain't the place to be doing this stupid clown business, we some crazy hillbillies and we will shoot you in you're clown face— Queen Milly♛ (@k_miller24) October 4, 2016
Why is dressing up like a clown becoming a thing in an age where people will shoot you over virtually anything?— Marsh ☝????️ (@marsh_III) October 4, 2016
According to the report, people aren’t just buying more clown costumes, they are buying more creepy clown costumes. With people in at least 32 states now reporting having seen someone in a clown costume waiting quietly and perhaps even threateningly in the shadows, more and more people are turning to creepy or scary clown costumes as their Halloween (or random Thursday) attire of choice.
“In the top 10, eight of them are ‘evil’ clown masks this season whereas last year, five of the top 10 were ‘evil.'”
While it may seem, on the surface at least, that booming clown costume sales are a good thing, particularly for the U.S.’s $7 billion Halloween industry, it is entirely possible that an excess of folks decked out in creepy clown costumes could pose a real problem, possibly even a dangerous one. That’s because a lot of Americans aren’t amused by the sight of some guy (or girl) in a creepy clown costume. Many are scared, and in some cases people are even threatening to get a little trigger happy if they happen to encounter a scary-looking clown.
As Fox 13 News reports, police departments in Utah and around the country are fielding questions from citizens concerned about the plague of creepy clown sightings that has erupted across the nation. One such question is whether or not it’s legal to shoot someone wearing a scary clown costume. In fact, one Utah police department alone claims it has gotten calls from dozens of residents regarding the legality of shooting someone simply because their creepy clown costume is freaking people out. In Utah at least, police are reminding citizens that it is illegal to shoot someone simply for dressing like a clown. Even a scary clown.
The Orem Police Department has taken to social media to remind residents what is and is not a legal response to being confronted with someone wearing a clown costume.
When it comes to defending yourself against a lurking clown, it’s unlikely that it’s legal anywhere in the U.S. to simply shoot the person in clown costume on sight. In fact, getting trigger happy with your local creepy clown could spell a lot of trouble for anyone who dares to go on a clown hunt, and Utah isn’t the only state to put the warning out against shooting the creepy Bozos just because you get freaked out.
Pennsylvania is dealing with a rash of folks lurking around wearing their favorite clown costume, too. As Heat Street reports, Phillipsburg police have warned locals not to engage any clowns they might see. In that city, the creepy clowns have reportedly banded together in packs and have been reported yelling at children and even chasing them. So far, no clowns have actually been apprehended by Philadelphia police.
“You see somebody in a clown mask, don’t go talk to them.”
Citizens are being advised to contact law enforcement if they see a threatening clown, not to try to take the law into their own hands. As the Phillipsburg Police Department warned, shooting a clown can result in severe consequences for the shooter. Indeed, despite the inexplicably high number of reported creepy clown sightings in recent weeks, many have been determined to be hoaxes and the remainder have stayed non-violent. There was a report of a clown-related stabbing in Pennsylvania last week, but ultimately the crime was determined to be unrelated to the nation’s creepy clown sightings.
Police are advising people to not shoot clowns. But if that creepy clown comes near me can I accidentally hit it... With my car?— Harrison Whitney (@Hwhit07) October 4, 2016
PSA— Heath Ledger Jr. (@iHunterP) October 4, 2016
If you want to try and be funny and dress like a clown around my house, or on my property, I WILL shoot you.
Despite the warnings to the general public to both be on the lookout for creepy clowns and to not engage the creepy clowns if they are spotted, some police officers are sending out a clear warning to those who choose to walk around in a clown costume, too. As Reason reports, officers are warning would-be clowns that if they’re walking around in a clown costume, they might be asking for trouble. People all across the country are on edge, and in many areas it appears that residents are just looking for a clown to be the focus of their fear and anxiety.
“If You Run Around in a Clown Suit, You Should Probably Expect for Citizens to Beat You.”
With the combination of clown-related tension and record-setting clown costume sales, it’s possible that this Halloween could be a recipe for disaster.
[Featured Image by nito/Shutterstock]