WASHINGTON: Residents of a small town in South Carolina are on high alert for sightings of sinister clowns following reports that people donning luminous noses and oversized shoes may be trying to lure children into a nearby woods.
Police are investigating a number of mysterious appearances of clowns standing near basketball courts, in woodlands and under lampposts in and around Greenville.
There have been "a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing taking children or trying to lure children in the woods," administrators of Fleetwood Manor Apartments wrote to residents.
Police have begun daily patrols of the town and the apartment complex, where parents said their children had come home with stories of speaking to clowns.
Donna Arnold, one of the residents, said she called the Greenville County Sheriff's Office because her son told her he had seen a clown behind the basketball court.
"At first, I thought he was telling a fib and I said, 'Go in the house and we'll talk about this again,' because I didn't want it all over the place," Mrs Arnold told a local news channel. "And then the next day, there was like 30 kids that came up to me and said, 'Ms Donna, Ms Donna, there's clowns in the woods.' My child was with me, so I knew they had to see something. There was more than one kid that seen them, so I feel confident that he was telling the truth."
The sightings began earlier this month when an unnamed resident told the police that her son had seen clowns "whispering and making strange noises" in the nearby woods, according to an incident report.
The resident said she later saw "several clowns in the woods flashing green laser lights." The figures then ran away into the woods. The following night, at about 10.30pm, the woman said that her elder son heard "chains and banging" at their front door.
A day later, on Aug 20, at around 2.30am another resident said she came across a "a large-figured clown with a blinking nose", standing under a post light near the garbage dumpster area." She said the clown waved at her so she waved back and kept walking.
Police also interviewed children who told them clowns tried "to persuade them into the woods further by displaying large amounts of money."
A 12-year-old called told them they had seen two clowns in their garden. One had red hair and the other a white mask and body suit.
The children said they believed that the clowns lived in a house near a pond at the end of a trail in the woods.
The responding Greenville Sheriff's deputy reported that upon investigating they found the house, but no clowns or any signs of suspicious activity.