The phenomenon started last month in South Carolina. Now, clown sightings are being reported as far upstate as Utica and Syracuse. In Syracuse, an instance of clowns scaring a child was also reported.
Locally, social media seems to think clowns are making appearances at night. But, according to Chemung County Undersheriff Bill Schrom, official reports of clown sightings in the area have yet to be made.
The intimidating scare tactic has people on some people on edge, and others steering clear of the clown section in Halloween stores.
“I feel that with the issues surrounding clowns currently, it would be pretty dangerous this year,” Halloween shopper Brandon Earley said.
“With clowns dressing up and terrorizing children, I don’t think that the public would take it very nicely if someone were to dress up as a clown,” Halloween shopper Brandon Coston said. “So I’m not going to put myself in that situation.”
In most cases, the seemingly harmless prank has remained as such. And being a clown on Halloween shouldn’t be an issue for those who wish to do so.
However, dressing up as a menacing clown and pulling pranks on others can carry a hefty price.
Undersheriff Schrom says potential charges associated with the pranks can range from ‘loitering’ to varying degrees of harassment. But penalties could get much worse if someone happens to get hurt during a prank.
But the biggest concern of the potential pranksters could be trying to pull a joke on the wrong person, at the wrong time.
“Heaven forbid, a young kid doing this as a prank encounters the wrong person that’s carrying legally or feels that they’re in an imminent danger or harm to themselves, and they react with a firearm or some other means to defend themselves,” Undersheriff Schrom said. “That would be a tragic outcome to a foolish prank.”