Last year, people dressed as "killer clowns" menaced communities across the United States, appearing at the edge of forests, poking around apartment complexes, terrorizing drivers from the side of the road, even causing a spate of school shutdowns and clown costume confiscation operations.
This year, it's been relatively quiet, clown wise, this side of the pond. But in the United Kingdom, they're seeing a dramatic uptick in clown-related violence, and it's promoting British officials to undertake a serious clown crackdown.
According to iNews, the trend started with some youths in Kent wearing clown masks and orange jumpsuits, who were "leaping out in front of cars and jumping in front of people," causing mass panic. Police missed picking up the cadre of court jesters by the roadside, and instead warned residents to avoid the area over "road safety concerns."
The same clowns, apparently, then went on a jaunt through the local town, knocking on doors, doing bike tricks, and generally causing a ruckus. And a handful of residents reported encounters.
“They knocked on my door yesterday and just stood there," one told local media. Another, “One in an orange jumpsuit? They passed me with my kids and kept watching people walking past.”
The reign of terror became so distressing that Canterbury City Council officials were told to shelter in place as local authorities watched the teenagers play around on closed circuit television cameras.
The Kent incidents are just the latest in a number of clown-scarings across the U.K. Thames Valley police were called to action after 14 people reported suspicious clowns over the course of two days. Gloucestershire police had six calls over a similar 48 stretch, including a woman who was scared so badly she went into premature labor.
Only one British clown report has been serious, however — a Plymouth incident, where a man posted an online video showing a clown, standing completely still, brandishing a hammer.
The "killer clown" craze, by the U.K. police's own admission, has been nothing like the terror that gripped both sides of the pond in late 2016. British authorities handled more than 50 separate clown-related incidents last year, and American police were similarly occupied. At one point the situation became so dire, authorities in several states released applications just for clown-reporting purposes.