SPARTA, NJ – The strange clown phenomena appears to have come to Sparta. A short video has been making its way around town through local twitter accounts depicting a person dressed in a clown costume on Ungerman basketball court.
Thought the quality is poor it shows the figure picking up a basketball as it moves across the court.
Sparta police said they “are fully aware and have been briefed by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s office concerning the legitimate threat in South Jersey, of a person or persons dressed as a clown trying to lure children into the woods.”
Police departments in Burlington, Gloucester and Cumberland counties have reported receiving calls about various types of clown sightings and threatening messages sent via Instagram and facebook.
“In our community public safety is our primary mission and we understand the concerns of our citizens over this situation,” Lt. John Paul Beebe said. “It is not against the law, however, for a person to dress as a clown.”
Given the situation in South Jersey that is still being investigated, the Sparta police department is “taking a serious proactive approach,” asking the community as always to call if they are concerned; “if you see something say something."
Clown sightings have been reported all over the country, initially in North and South Carolina, then in Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and now New Jersey. Over the past week police have been called in Phillipsburg, Wayne and Warren County with reports of “creepy clowns,” according to those local police departments. Some videos posted on social media have even depicted people dressed as clowns wielding various weapons including a knife, machete and bb gun.
Beebe said, “They have the constitutional right,” to dress up and post on the internet. “Anything or any action that can be articulated by law enforcement as threatening in any way will be dealt with lawfully and accordingly.
“In our society it is not illegal to act like a fool. It is against the law when you are a threatening fool,” said Beebe.