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For what seems like the 40th time in as many days, people are seeing clowns where clowns do not belong. This time, an entire school district in Florida is on alert after local sightings of clowns lurking the streets alarmed residents.
A 14-year-old girl in the Tampa Bay area reported being chased down by a clown that was hiding in a wooded ditch, according to ABC's Tampa Bay affiliate station. Pasco County's school district posted a statement to Facebook Friday afternoon telling residents that if they see something, they should say something.
"As you may be aware, there is a 'Creepy Clown' phenomenon that is sweeping the country," the post said. "We have no reason to believe it is credible or that any of our schools are in danger. However, we are not summarily dismissing it and the sheriff’s office is investigating."
At least a dozen people have been arrested in recent weeks for donning full-body clown suits and harassing locals across the country, per the International Business Times. Many city ordinances ban wearing masks in public. Police in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York have also received reports of clown sightings near heavily wooded areas.
Law enforcement agencies have noted that the clown sightings are likely copycat crimes—a product of viral news stories—and are a drain on resources better spent on solving actual crime.