Crime & Courts

No clowning around: Reporting fake clown sighting could get you arrested

A woman at Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, S.C., pulled this picture up on her Facebook after saying she had a photograph of the clowns allegedly seen in the woods near the complex on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. This photo has been widely shared online. Its origin is believed to be New Hampshire.
A woman at Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, S.C., pulled this picture up on her Facebook after saying she had a photograph of the clowns allegedly seen in the woods near the complex on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. This photo has been widely shared online. Its origin is believed to be New Hampshire. The Greenville News

Calling in a fake report of a creepy clown at a school is nothing to laugh about, the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office warned after investigating two bogus claims on Wednesday. It could get you arrested.

An anonymous call to a Cleveland County elementary school reported a clown on the premises, the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s investigators, meanwhile, were sent on the trail of another clown after a Facebook post depicted a clown with the caption that it was seen near a Cleveland County high school.

“Both of these incidents were investigated and found to be false,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “Investigating these allegations has taken numerous man hours from the Sheriff’s Office.

“We realize that fear regarding incidents involving clowns in South Carolina has spread and, unfortunately some are using it to play pranks,” the office said. “To many this is not a joking matter. Baseless and false reports take away from the Sheriff’s Office resources and ability to work other criminal investigations.”

After conferring with the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office, the sheriff’s office said anyone who posts a picture of a clown stating it is near a school could face charges of obstruction of justice.

In Greenville County, S.C., deputies increased patrols recently after getting new reports of people dressed as clowns trying to lure children into the woods. In Winston-Salem, police are doing extra patrols in a neighborhood after two children reported seeing a clown trying to lure kids into the woods with treats on Sunday night.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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