FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The bizarre trend sweeping the country of individuals dressed as clowns has stricken fear into communities, including some in Connecticut, according to Connecticut State Police.
But state police and local police departments say it's no laughing matter and want the public to be aware of the possible consequences associated with these incidents.
Over the last few days, reports of clown sightings in Connecticut have popped up in communities around the state, police said.
While it is not illegal to dress as a clown, it is illegal to do so with the intent of causing alarm, according to the Connecticut State Police.
Individuals dressing as clowns and engaging in threatening or alarming behavior will be immediately addressed by law enforcement, police said.
Moreover, creating social media pages inciting violence or alluding to creating fear in the communities will not be tolerated and will be handled as criminal matters.
"We want to remind everyone that your online actions are not anonymous. We will continue working with social media companies to identify those inappropriately using social media to cause panic. At least five individuals have already been taken into custody in our state for engaging in this behavior," Connecticut State Police said in a press release.
There are many other emergencies and calls for service that troopers and other first responders need to get to without being misdirected to a prank, police said.
These incidents are similar in swatting to the swatting incidents police have dealt with in the past where resources are carelessly misdirected. Situations such as these waste valuable resources and can lead to injuries to both first responders and members of the public, said police.
These clown pranks can cause major disruptions leading to schools, businesses and neighborhoods being placed into lockdown unnecessarily, according to Connecticut State Police.
Earlier in the week, Stamford police reportedly investigated a "clown threat" made on social media, according to the Stamford Advocate.
School Superintendent Earl Kim issued a robocall to parents advising them of the threat and investigation, the Stamford Advocate reported. Kim did not go into details about the threat, but said it was similar in nature to clown sightings that have been reported across the nation since mid-August, according to the Stamford Advocate.
A clown sighting was reported on Fairfield University's campus Monday night but was later determined to be a prank, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The Fairfield University Department of Public Safety said it received calls from students reporting the sighting of clowns on campus, the department said in a Facebook post Tuesday. The incidents were later confirmed as a prank and the individual involved has been identified.
A clown sighting was also reported on the campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
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