PIQUA — Unconfirmed sightings of clowns have popped up sporadically in Piqua this week.
“We’ve gotten a couple reports of that,” Deputy Chief Jason Preston of the Piqua Police Department said on Thursday. “To my knowledge, no officers ever actually found one.”
The most recent unconfirmed sighting was of someone walking around in a clown costume at the Miami Valley Centre Mall on Wednesday at around 9:45 a.m. An officer responded, checked the parking lot, walked through the mall, and did not locate anything.
Other possible clown sightings in Piqua include on the 1300 block of Fairfax Avenue on Tuesday at around 12:30 a.m. There was also a report of two male subjects wearing clown masks and yelling at people as they drove by in black truck on East Ash Street at the Miami Valley Centre Mall on Sunday at 1:15 p.m.
When asked if the cropping up of clowns presents a risk to residents, Preston advised if someone witnesses a person in a clown costume exhibiting violent behavior like in the reports surfacing around the country, they should alert the authorities.
“If you see that kind of behavior, I would definitely contact the police,” Preston said. “If someone’s just walking down the street with a balloon, if that’s their hobby, they can do it.” Preston added that the police will respond either way to a call about a suspicious clown and try to speak with the person.
“Either way, we’ll go out and attempt to talk to the person,” Preston said. “We haven’t confirmed anything in Piqua. It’s always been gone when the officer arrives and checks the area.”
Anyone considering dressing up as a clown as a prank runs the risk of people in the community misunderstanding the situation and thinking someone is getting assaulted. With the public nature of these clown sightings, it was advised that people not dress up as clowns to frighten people.
There are no specific laws or ordinances that address people who dress up in costumes and wear masks in public. If they are causing a disturbance, they could potentially be charged with a disorderly conduct violation. If someone is chasing someone down the street, they could also be charged with inducing panic. Preston said that there are no ordinances in Piqua that prohibit people from wearing costumes in public.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336