NEW JERSEY — The streak of terrifying clown sightings across the tri-state area has prompted a New Jersey police department to warn against wearing the costumes this Halloween and a Connecticut school district to ban them outright.
Roselle Park Police in New Jersey are urging parents to avoid dressing their children in clown costumes.
“Residents may be sensitive to ‘evil and creepy’ clown attacks leading up to Halloween,” the police department wrote on Facebook, warning creepy clown copycats from joining the circus.
“We are issuing this warning of possible exposure to criminal prosecution and civil liability for any suspicious or threatening clown behavior on social networks or in public, into any business or a school after a spike of incident across the country,” the Facebook post read.
The department says anyone, regardless of age, dressed up as clowns can cause unnecessary panic for people who just want to celebrate Halloween traditionally, with costumes and candy.
“Would-be clown pranksters” waiting to terrorize trick-or-treaters with weapons — even if they’re fake — should think twice, Roselle Park cops said:
“Carrying anything that is perceived to be a weapon in public, into businesses or in and around schools exposes you to criminal charges and/or potential danger if it is confused for a real weapon.”
Creepy clown sightings, which began and South Carolina and North Carolina, have been reported in at least 32 states. The sightings have spread through New Jersey during the past two weeks ago. Four sightings were reported within two days in Phillipsburg alone.
By the end of last week, clowns were spotted in Suffolk County, on Long Island, in the communities of North Babylon and Brentwood, and also in the Hudson Valley.
The reports haven’t slowed down, with more photos of the menacing masked individuals popping up on social media. The NYPD has told New Yorkers there is no credible threat here and that area residents should not be afraid of the masked individuals.
Yet, there are still concerns that Halloween will bring more panic and chaos surrounding clowns.
New Haven Public School officials posted a letter to parents banning clown-themed costumes and any “symbols of terror” during Halloween season:
“Unfortunately, clown-themed posturing has been a growing trend throughout the country, particularly on social media. At this time there is no indication this incident poses any real or substantial threat to New Haven Public Schools or Students. We do however take these incidents very seriously; In light of this incident, we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the week and take all necessary precautions to ensure student and staff safety in all our schools.”
The creepy clown sightings dominating news headlines haven’t deterred people from buying the costumes.
“Clown mask sales are up more than [300%] from a year ago the same period online,” Brad Butler of national Halloween costume chain Halloween Express told Eye Opener TV Tuesday.
“In the top 10, eight of them are ‘evil’ clown masks this season whereas last year, five of the top 10 were ‘evil,’” Butler added.