Coulrophobia – the fear of clowns – might seem like an old-joke from the 1990s – but more and more people are signing up to it.
In recent years, clown masks have become a new favourite to intimidate and scare people.
Recently, a 14-year-old teen reported a knife-wielding clown in Columbus, Ohio, who chased him down the street.
The boy told police that a man in dark clothing and a clown mask followed him as he walked to a bus stop in the morning.
According to the police report, he got rid of the clown by throwing a rock at him and fleeing to the bus stop.
In South Carolina, meanwhile, there are reports suggesting a clown or a group of clowns are “trying to lure children in the woods”.
A property manager wrote to all the residents of a building suggesting extra precautions to ensure children’s safety.
Numerous children have come up to their parents claiming they have seen clowns in the area.
I was running out of reasons not to go camping with friends so, thank you, Creepy Clowns in the Woods.
— Just Bill (@WilliamAder) September 2, 2016
The clowns have been reported to use laser pointers, stalk kids, and use money in attempt to lure them into a nearby wooded area.
This isn’t strictly US phenomena: in the UK, a man in Northampton used to dress up as a scary clown and walk around at night – spooking local people.
One one night, the clown has been left standing on a pavement waving with a teddy hanging between its fingers in its other hand.
With its pale face, drawn-on brows, a red wig and ruffled collar, it is an imitation of the Pennywise clown from Stephen King-inspired 1990 horror film, IT.
More than ever, Bart Simpson is looking like a prophet: