NJ cops to kids: No clown costumes on Halloween!
ROSELLE PARK — Clowning around on Halloween could land you behind bars.
Police in this Union County municipality have asked parents to not allow their teens to dress up as clowns because they could or risk criminal prosecution and civil liability resulting from any behavior that could be perceived as suspicious or threatening on social networks or on the street.
They also said that anyone dressed as a clown carrying anything that could be seen as a weapon could face criminal charges and "potential danger."
"We are warning all residents and visitors to our community, regardless of age, from dressing up as clowns leading up to Halloween to avoid spreading panic and inconvenience to those wishing to enjoy Halloween celebrations throughout the borough," the department said on its Facebook page.
Elsewhere, South River police on their Facebook page also have asked people not to walk around in clown costumes, warning that alarmed people might take the law into their own hands.
A rash of online threats made by "clowns" towards schools has increased over the past few weeks in New Jersey and several teens have being charged. A 13-year-old from Mays Landing was arrested on Tuesday by Hamilton Police in Atlantic County and charged with third-degree terroristic threats and third-degree causing false public alarm.
The Hopewell Valley School District posted a message on Wednesday that an "official looking" Instagram account created using the school's name was a fake. "This account is not maintained by the district and the district has not had any sightings or issued any warnings related to clowns," wrote superintendent Thomas A. Smith. "As an extra precaution, I have asked our police to maintain a visible presence around our schools."
Smith said the district is trying to get the fake page removed. He asked that anyone who knows about the account to contact Hopewell Police.
Other threats in Burlington Township, Collingswood, Wateford, and Palmyra were all found to be not be credible, according to the Courier Post.
The reports of the threats appears to have inspired people across the state — and the rest of the country — to report sightings of clowns. But in nearly all those cases, police have been unable to find any evidence or corroborate the sightings.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.