Police threaten ‘creepy clowns’ with jail as craze turns nasty & terrifies Britain

© Saul Loeb
British police have issued a warning amidst a “killer clown” craze sweeping the country that has seen some armed with knives following children to school and wielding “machetes” to terrorize drivers.

Police say they have been called to a string of incidents in which pranksters or criminals dressed in the circus costumes try to scare innocent bystanders. The spate of spookings is thought to have been inspired by similar clown attacks across the US in the lead up to Halloween.

Clowns in Manchester, one armed with a “machete” thought to be fake, reportedly terrorized drivers stopped at traffic lights. Two emerged from behind the bushes and began running towards the cars, sending one driver fleeing through a red light.

Mother of two Alice Slattery told the Telegraph that she turned to check on her children after Lilly, 4, began screaming while they were waiting at a traffic light. She then turned back to find a clown across her bonnet, prompting her to beep her horn and begin driving, forcing the clown to jump off.

As she sped away, she spotted a second clown “with something in his hand” who had been lurking behind the car.

Thames Valley Police, which covers an area from the west of London to central England, said on Sunday it had been called to 14 spooky clown incidents in the previous 24 hours. Chief Superintendent Andy Boyd warned that the trend was wasting police resources.

Four children in Durham, aged 11 or 12, were left “upset and distressed” on Friday after they were followed to school by a man in a clown outfit armed with a knife.

In Clacton-On-Sea to the east of London, police say two girls had been approached by two clowns in a black van asking if they wanted to go to a birthday party. There have also been sightings of clowns near schools in the area.

Creating “alarm or distress” is punishable by the Public Order Act and carries a maximum £1,000 fine. This could rise to a jail term if a weapon is carried.

Dr. Adam Lynes, a criminology lecturer at Birmingham City University, told The Sun: “A lot of these people are copycats.”

“You see this kind of behavior at the more extreme end of the scale with killing sprees.

“People get swept up in the movement and want the thrill of being involved.

“Putting on a clown mask hides your identity and often leads people to act in ways they wouldn’t normally.

“They’re unshackled from the normal rules of society.

“In most cases in the UK, this comes in the form of scaring ­people. It’s probably not illegal but it’s not nice when the targets are children.

“We saw similar behavior during the 2011 London riots, with people acting in extreme ways they normally wouldn’t. Putting on a creepy clown mask can have a similar effect, so there is the potential for incidents to spin out of control,” he explained.

In America, 12 people linked to clown attacks have been arrested across the country in the past two weeks.  The craze first emerged in August when people dressed as clowns allegedly attempted to lure children into a woodland.

Creepy clown threats have also led to school lockdowns in Ohio and Alabama, and police have linked the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy in Pennsylvania to the phenomenon, AP reports.