The ‘Clown Purge’ craze – where people dress as clowns and terrorise unsuspecting victims – is spiralling out of control as sightings spring up across Australia.
The phenomenon spawned in the US after social media users shared images of sinister clowns loitering in parks, highways and reportedly trying to lure children into the woods.
Now the hysteria has taken root in Australia, with social media images showing menacing clowns prowling the streets of Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth in droves.
Police are taking the craze seriously after reports from horrified victims, issuing a grave warning to anyone jumping on the bandwagon. Groups such as Clown Sightings Australia have shared sightings of clowns in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth on Friday night alone.
Elsewhere in Western Australia’s Mandura clowns have reportedly been horrifying people near supermarkets, while one woman in Warwick, Queensland, says she was chased 500m by a masked man.
Some snapshots appear to show violence erupting between the clowns and their victims, with one laying flat on his back after being ‘knocked out’ by a passer-by, and another showing a woman hitting one with a long object. Victoria Police issued a warning about clowns frightening people in Melbourne.
‘Victoria Police are aware of people who are parading in the public wearing clown masks,’ they said.
‘The clown purge appears to be a copycat of incidents being seen in the USA recently.
‘Any intimidating and threatening as well as anti-social behaviours will not be tolerated and will be investigated by Police. The Australian sightings come off the heels of mass ‘clown hysteria’ in the States, after spooky clowns were caught creeping around children.
There has also been widespread speculation that the appearance of the horrifying characters are related to the release of Stephen King’s new movie, It.
It features Pennywise the clown, and King responded to the frenzy this week tweeting: ‘Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.’