Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers from the Hawkesbury detachment weren’t clowning around on Thanksgiving weekend when they responded to not one, but two calls involving scary clown spottings.
OPP Constable Mario Gratton told The Review that both cases turned out to be pranks, including one that was reported near Vankleek Hill.
In the first instance, Gratton said that a young woman told a friend that she had seen a clown lurking around, and that she was scared. The friend called police, who interviewed both women and determined that the first woman was playing a joke on the second.
“In the second instance a man dressed as a clown and he went and knocked on his neighbour’s window,” said Gratton. The neighbour was alarmed and called police.
No charges were made in either case.
“It’s not a good idea to do something like this, especially right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up as a real case. People are looking on the internet and seeing what’s going on in big cities like Toronto and they’re trying to imitate what’s going on,” said Gratton.
Gratton emphasized that it’s illegal to dress up in a clown outfit and to carry around hatchets and knives in public with the intention of scaring others.
Clown spottings have been on the rise across Canada and the United States since an unsubstantiated report surfaced in late August claiming that clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods in South Carolina.
The phenomenon went viral online and lead to scary clown sightings popping up across North America. Police labelled most cases as hoaxes, but a handful of the incidents resulted in arrests. Time Magazine reports that in Alabama, at least seven people face felony charges of making a terrorist threat in connection with “clown related activity.”
Earlier this week, Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton went on lockdown after an alleged threat made by someone online who used the name YEG Clown.
The trend is no laughing matter for police across the country who urge citizens to refrain from participating in clown-related pranks.
Police representatives in Glengarry and Russell said that they have not received any reports of clown-related activity. Sûréte du Quebec (SQ) spokesperson Sergeant Marc Tessier said that things are similarly quiet in the Laurentians.
“We are aware that there are false photos and videos circulating on the internet and there are many rumours of clowns, but there have been no confirmed reports. We are looking into it and will investigate each case,” said Tessier.