NORWALK, Ohio– Norwalk police said a hoax photo posted online of two clowns sparked hysteria, leading to calls to police claiming clowns were harassing people.
The photo was posted on Facebook Thursday night and claimed the clowns were spotted in Norwalk. It has been shared more than 1,000 times.
“It seems like it was a prank that just kind of got out of hand,” Norwalk Police Capt. Michael Conney said.
According to a police report, police started receiving calls about people in clown costumes causing problems late Thursday night into early Friday morning.
First, a caller reported four men wearing clowns masks harassing people on the sidewalk of Cline Street just after 11:30 p.m.
Just after midnight, police also responded to a report of two clowns “jumping out of the woods, scaring people” as they passed by the wooded area behind H & B Hop. A woman on Concord Court called police around 1:45 a.m. to a Concord Court home where a woman reported she saw a clown outsider her door attempting to break in.
Police said they never found any criminal clowns, but they did find several groups of people out looking for clowns. One, described as a motorcycle group, said they were tracking the clowns through Facebook posts. In another group, including several people in a truck bed, a woman said “she was live streaming on Facebook documenting the hunt for the clowns,” according to the police report.
Investigators said they tracked down the man and woman who made the original post, and they admitted they dressed in the clown costumes for the photo. The man told police he urged the woman to remove the post but she “wanted to be famous,” according to the report.
“We want people to be careful with what they post on social media, to think beforehand and to realize that can be a problem and it can create a problem for the police in tying up resources, wasting time that could be better spent serving the public,” Conney said.
According to police, Norwalk’s law director reviewed the case but declined to file criminal charges against the pranksters.
With the clown sightings unconfirmed by officers, police said they could’ve been exaggerations or false reports.