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So you saw a clown in the street. What do you want police to do?

Creepy clowns are creeping out Coast residents, based almost entirely on Facebook rumors that don't check out, law enforcement and school officials say.
Creepy clowns are creeping out Coast residents, based almost entirely on Facebook rumors that don't check out, law enforcement and school officials say. Justin Mitchell

Creepy clowns sightings are proving as hard to verify as reports of the Loch Ness monster.

Except in this case, we don’t even have a grainy photo that might prove they exist.

Long Beach police took a call about three clowns strolling along Alvaredo Drive about 8 p.m. Wednesday night. Two officers arrived within two minutes of the call, police Chief Wayne McDowell said.

“The caller just said that clowns were running around on the street,” McDowell said Thursday morning. “We searched the area for half an hour. We did not find any clowns.”

So, was the call legit? He said he has no reason to believe otherwise.

This is the first clown sighting the Sun Herald has learned about in the three Coast counties, but officials have been hunting elusive clowns up in Lucedale, where two reports came in last week. Lucedale police have received no reports about clowns this week.

Rumors about creepy clowns have reached a fever pitch, particularly in the South, according to news reports. Lots of the chatter is coming across Facebook and appears to be rumor based on news reports.

For example, the Associated Press reported Sept. 15 on the arrests of two people in Georgia who called 911 with false reports of clowns in a white van out to abduct school children. It turned out the van had run out of gas and no clown costumes were in sight. The 911 callers later admitted they’d fabricated the stories.

Facebook then fanned rumors about clown abductions at schools. And then it came to this, from a Friday incident reported by the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald: “An 11-year-old Athens girl was arrested for bringing to school a knife she said was needed to fend off clowns.”

So, clowns can be dangerous, and we’re not going to be rid of them in the run-up to Halloween, McDowell said. The holiday itself could be particularly frightening this year.

“There’s going to be all kinds of clowns on Halloween, I’m just telling you,” McDowell said. “I think everybody’s going to be a clown.”

And what would police have done if they’d found clowns walking down Alvaredo on Wednesday night?

“If they were just dressed as clowns in the street,” McDowell said, “there’s nothing we really could have done.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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