PHOENIX — It appears the nationwide trend of spotting creepy-looking clowns has arrived in Arizona.
The trend is fairly widespread and, essentially, ranges from someone in a scary clown costume staring at people to possible threats coming from clown-associated accounts and actual crimes committed by people in clown outfits.
The most famous cases are arguably reported in South Carolina, where children have told their parents that clowns are trying to lure them into the woods with candy.
Since the reports of the South Carolina clowns went viral, reports of others have begun cropping up all over the nation, including in the Phoenix area.
Some may be linked to last week’s school threats, and the Mesa Police Department sent out a news release on Tuesday confirming that there were threats directed at schools in Mesa, but they weren’t “viable.”
Two juveniles were charged in reference to the clown threats though. One got a disorderly conduct charge while the other juvenile was charged with false reporting to law enforcement.
“We encourage parents to be aware of their children’s activity on electronic devices,” Mesa police said in the release. “What may seem like a funny post, email, text or snapchat associated with the creepy clowns – ‘let’s play’ movement, can cause fear and concern and exhaust resources attempting to determine the viability of a threat.”
The Mesa public school district sent out a release as well, mirroring what the police said and that parents should “be aware of your children’s activity on social media.”
Even though those threats weren’t viable, one woman told Mac & Gaydos that she and others saw a clown staring at them earlier in the week.
Bailey, who did not give her last name, said she was taking the trash out in her apartment complex near 67th Avenue and the Loop 101 about 10 p.m. Monday when she saw a man in clown makeup watching her through the fence.
“On my way back, I saw somebody standing there,” she said. “It didn’t look like they were trying to get in the gate. I put my phone down and I didn’t even realize at first that it was a clown because that’s not what you’re expecting.”
Bailey said it was the first time she had seen the clown, which has a white face with blacked-out eyes and smeared makeup. The clown was wearing dirty, tattered clothes.
“I thought it was maybe one of my friends trying to be mean,” she said. “We had actually talked about it (the nationwide rash of clown sightings) earlier that night.”
However, when she tried to talk to the clown, she became frightened.
“I tried to talk to it,” she said. “He never said anything.”
Bailey said she called the Glendale Police Department’s non-emergency number as was told she was the third call received about the clown.