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Clowns giving everyone the creeps

A clown in flight in Argentina last November. In these parts, recent reports of threatening clowns have often set police in motion.
A clown in flight in Argentina last November. In these parts, recent reports of threatening clowns have often set police in motion.Mario Tama/Getty Images/File

Every day, police officers respond to reports of all sorts of events and non-events, most of which never make the news. Here is a sampling of lesser-known — but no less noteworthy — incidents from police log books (a.k.a. blotters) in our suburbs.

At schools, fears of a clown

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the wave of creepy clown sightings that has been reported across the country, and Massachusetts hasn’t been immune, with schools appearing particularly fertile grounds. On Oct. 3, a dorm at Merrimack College in North Andover was evacuated after a report of an armed clown on the campus that proved to be a hoax. On Oct. 6, officials announced that a similar threat directed at Plymouth South High School was also a hoax. Similarly, a reported clown sighting at a Northborough elementary school Oct. 4, apparently sparked by an anonymous tweet on Twitter, proved to be a complete sham. “No clowns,’’ police reported on the department’s Facebook page, “have actually been seen.” While that incident was unfolding, Hanover police were busy responding to several calls about clown sightings at local schools in their town, all of them unfounded. In the face of all this, what happened at Methuen High School earlier this month stands in sharp contrast. There, a freshman boy got in trouble when he allegedly wore a clown mask at school and pretended that his cellphone was a gun. Police said he would be summonsed to court and charged with disrupting a school assembly.

More clowning around

Sham clown sightings, or at least reports where officers were dispatched but came up empty, aren’t limited to the area’s schools, of course. Here’s a sampling of other local reports, all from early October. On Oct. 2, someone walked into the Norwood police station to report that a person dressed as a clown was attempting to scare people at Hennessy Field on Pleasant Street. Two evenings later, Salem police were dispatched to Essex Street to check a report of a “group of scary clowns harassing people” near the Peabody Essex Museum. The night after that, a man called Saugus police to two clowns with knives walking down Main Street toward Village Park. Plaza. Each report was investigated by police; each report led nowhere.



Not every bad clown sighting is fake, of course. Sometimes police do capture bad clowns in the act. On the evening of Oct. 7, Peabody police received a report of a man in a clown costume throwing rocks at people’s windows on Nichols Road. Police tracked down a suspect, who proved to be a juvenile. No charges were filed, but the young mischief-maker was promptly treated to a ride home by police in a cruiser, and an officer spoke to his parents.


Getaway clown car

Bad clowns need their rags, natch, and it seems not all bad clowns want to pay for them. Just after 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6, the manager of the Saugus Party City, a discount party supply chain, called police to report that a man had harassed one of his employees and attempted to shoplift a clown costume and mask from the store. The would-be bad clown reportedly fled the scene in a green 2002 Audi.

No laughing matter

One clown sighting in Braintree had unpleasant consequences, particularly for a motorcyclist who happened to be in the area. It happened Oct. 3, when police received a 911 call that a clown, possibly armed with a knife, was attempting to break into a home. As officers headed to the scene, police later reported on Facebook, a motorcyclist trying “to get away from the blue lights” lost control of the bike and crashed. Police said the rider suffered minor injuries and abrasions. Police would soon learn that the string of events was set off by a teenager who had dressed up like a clown to scare a neighbor. Declaring it fortunate no one else had been hurt, police on Facebook then pleaded: “Parents, please talk to your children about the seriousness of their actions.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.