Creepy clown sightings terrify Australians

THREE separate creepy clown sightings have authorities concerned as a terrifying phenomenon, which began in the US makes its way to Australia. 

The first Australian sightings happened last night, one in the sleepy north coast New South Wales city of Grafton, the other in Gladstone in central Queensland. 

A photo of a person dressed in a clown costume in See Park in Grafton
A photo of a person dressed in a clown costume in See Park in Grafton North Coast Crime

The photo was accompanied by a post on the North Coast Crime page in which the administrator said sightings had also taken place in other areas further north, including Lismore and Ballina. 

Meanwhile in Gladstone two separate sightings at opposite sides of the city were enough for authorities to issue a stern warning. 

"We don't condone anyone to act in this matter," Sergeant Peter Stone from Gladstone Police said.

"If a person is seen to be creating a disturbance or causing fear to the public the subject may be charged with an offence.

"If anyone sees somebody dressed in a clown suit, or acting suspiciously, they should contact the police immediately."

The first sighting in Gladstone was in the suburb of Telina about 7.30pm, another sighting occurred on Aerdrome Rd an hour and half later about 9pm. 

Then today in Warwick in Queensland's southern downs police were notified after a woman took to Facebook saying she was chased 500 metres along a suburban street by a clown.

The post was made on Facebook today.
The post was made on Facebook today. Facebook

"It left me shaking," Ebony Perry posted. 

"I couldn't imagine how much it would scare a child."

Meanwhile in the country's southern areas there have been reports of sightings in Victoria and south-west Sydney.  

In Victoria police took to Facebook to warn potential offenders their actions would not be tolerated. 

Meanwhile sightings have also being reported on Facebook in Campbelltown and Narellan in south-west Sydney where a page titled "The Clowns are Coming" was reportedly pulled down with police warning perpetrators may be held legally liable for anything that happened to people running away.

"It's hard to tell what the clowns' motives are," Campbelltown Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Tara Norton told the Camden Advertiser.

"They can be partially responsible for what could happen to someone if they are running away in fear.

"If someone runs into the roadway or finds themselves in harm's way these people could find themselves in custody."

The incidents follow on from several in the US, in which people have dressed in clown costumes to try to lure children into woods or to chase people with knives.

*WARNING the video below contains strong language

The phenomenon has already seen a number of people attacked and arrested in the US. 

On September 30 schools were closed in Reading after a woman was attacked by a man wearing a clown costume - the woman told police the man made a threat against students at nearby schools, USA Today reports. 

The first terrifying reports came out of South Carolina and were reported by the New York Times as follows: 

"At the edge of dark, dark woods in South Carolina, children have been telling adults that a group of clowns have been trying to lure them into the cluster of trees. They say the clowns live deep in the woods, near a house by a pond."

It was initially believed the sightings were part of a hoax to promote a short film, however, most theorists now state it appears to be a case of copy cat crime.

Child psychiatrist Steven Schlozman, from Harvard University told The Times clowns set off a primal alarm bell within the human brain.

"It has this kind of capacity to grab you emotionally before it grabs you cognitively," he said.

"That's the key to making something viral online actually: to make people emotionally engaged before they're intellectually engaged."

While a handful of those responsible have been arrested in the US, no arrests have been made in Australia.