The international outbreak of threatening clown sightings, originally inspired by Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel which was recently adapted into a film, "It," has reached Israel.
Fifteen youths, some under the age of 12, were detained for questioning by police over the past week under suspicion of dressing up as clowns and jumping out at strangers in public places throughout the country. Police said that although the young culprits are simply playing pranks and behaving mischievously, the situation has reached a level that impacts citizens’ daily lives and routines.
The police request that the public “refrain from taking matters into their own hands, and not to hurt the youth involved ... but instead leave the area and report the event to the police as soon as possible.”
According to police, the activity is part of an international trend, popularized on social media, in which the perpetrators upload videos of themselves surprising unsuspecting strangers in the streets by popping out at them dressed in creepy clown costumes.
The police noted that although they are only pranks, such actions are illegal and will be taken seriously. “The concern is that the target of the prank will misinterpret the joke as threatening and will injure the perpetrator,” said the police.
“The frightening act and intention behind it is usually not to injure or harm the person or their property. In most situations, the best option is to distance oneself from the area and to report the event to police as quickly as possible,” they said.
The 15 youngsters caught jumping out at people while wearing clown costumes are from various Israeli towns. Last Thursday, four youths under the age of 12 from Dimona were detained for questioning after scaring passersby with clown masks. They were later released and transferred to welfare authorities.
On Saturday, an 18-year-old from Ramle was detained for questioning after alarming people in a public park. Two other young men of the same age were questioned in Rishon Letzion along with two youths from Kiryat Gat and two others from Holon. Additionally, the police announced that they had detained four boys under the age of 12 in Afula last week in possession of clown costumes.
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