The Farmington Police Department in Minnesota has had it with creepy clown sightings.
Police were alerted this week that an individual who identified himself as Bobo the Friendly Clown would be visiting several schools at lunchtime.
Investigators quickly ruled out any threat posed by Bobo or the “clown craze,” which they characterized as an attempt “at social media influenced hysteria.” But the police chief did have a stern message for Bobo.
“Bobo, if you get this message, I offer the following,” Lindquist wrote in a statement on Facebook.
I’m sorry, but you are not welcome at any of the schools for a delicious nutritious lunch. You are however, more than welcome to have lunch with me and my officers. It won’t be as tasty and the conversation probably a little too mature for you; but I have a very scary jail cell I think you would appreciate seeing.
Looking forward to making your acquaintance,
Chief of Police
The next day, Lindquist issued an update reporting that a parent came forward and said their child was posing as Bobo the Clown to scare a friend.
Lindquist went on to ask that citizens “take two seconds” to think “before you hit the send key” and report a clown sighting.
“We are done with Bobo the Clown,” the police chief concluded. “He doesn’t exist.”
Farmington’s clown hoax follows a string of creepy clown reports that have plagued communities across the nation, with clowns allegedly trying to lure children into the woods in South Carolina and reported sightings in Los Angeles, Hawaii and Wisconsin.
Ben Radford, a research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and author of “Bad Clowns,” said clown sighting claims are usually pranksters, false reports and hoaxes, and are nothing to be worried about.
“I don’t think there’s any real threat in the most recent cases,” Radford, a scholar who studies clowns and tracks clown sighting reports, told The Huffington Post. “In terms of serious injuries or abductions or murders, that just hasn’t happened, period.”
Still, Radford said he’s concerned that some people overreact to these pranksters.
In Kentucky, for example, a man was accused of shooting an AR-15 rifle into the air to scare off a woman he thought was a clown. And in South Carolina, residents familiar with reports of local clown sightings reportedly fired their weapons into the woods when they heard unknown noises.
“Most of what’s going on are a combination of pranks, copycats and schoolyard rumors,” Radford said. But when people begin to shoot at suspected clowns, “the situation can escalate and become more dangerous.”
Perhaps Bobo the Clown should be a little less concerned with scaring people and a little more concerned with gun owners.