The “creepy clown” hysteria has reached the Hudson Highlands. On Oct. 4, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, issued a press release entitled, “Clown incidents reported in Dutchess County.”
Reports have been made in several states over the past few weeks of people dressed in clown costumes committing crimes or acting suspiciously, which has fueled coulrophobia. People wearing “scary clown” costumes have been said to follow children, issue threats and creep around in the dark. According to the sheriff, several sightings have been reported in Dutchess County.
The practice has led to at least a dozen arrests elsewhere for false reports or making threats. Most of the incidents appear to be hoaxes or pranks fueled by social media and news reports (such as this one), which the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office says has frustrated first responders.
The sheriff noted that “at this time there is no reason for panic or alarm,” adding that “if someone is acting suspiciously, whether or not they are wearing a clown costume, report it to law enforcement.” The sightings, which now appear to be a contagion, started in South Carolina in late August. The response by law enforcement intensified when people identifying themselves as clowns, including a 13-year-old in Poughkeepsie, began posting threats online against schools.
A spokesman for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said it has not received any suspicious clown reports.