Experts say creepy clowns causing unnecessary panic - WSMV Channel 4

Experts say creepy clowns causing unnecessary panic

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THP shared this photo on its Twitter page, but the actors behind it say they're upset. (WSMV) THP shared this photo on its Twitter page, but the actors behind it say they're upset. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Stories of creepy clowns are popping up on social media almost daily, but experts say nearly all of the incidents are completely harmless and non-violent.

It’s often either a fake picture or someone trying to scare others. 

So why so many becoming obsessed with this phenomenon?

Experts say people like the idea of scary clowns, and Halloween stores across the country are paying attention.

At Halloween Express, clown costume sales have surged 300 percent from last year.

Halloween stores across the country have stocked up.

“Clowns are always going to be a huge part of Halloween, but is definitely going to amp it up some more,” said manager Ryan McKee.

McKee is talking about the many tales of clowns trying to lure children into the woods.

“The evil clown is compelling because it's a combination of humor and horror - things we fear and things we enjoy, and that combination is irresistible,” said Ben Radford, author of Bad Clowns.

Radford said nearly all of the stories we've heard lately are simply that, stories.

“Essentially what we're seeing is a collection of copycats, hoaxes and rumors, and there aren't bunches of people dressing as clowns looking to harm or molest anyone,” Radford said.

Last month, the Tennessee Highway Patrol shared a picture of two clowns on its Twitter page warning the public to beware.

But the clowns pictured aren’t dangerous at all. They are two actors part of a performance art group in New Hampshire.

“We’re not trying to idolize any violence or harmful acts to anyone,” said a man who identified himself as “Mr. Clown.”

Channel 4’s Liz Lohuis spoke with one of the actors over the phone. He said the rumors are hurtful.

“We have been getting death threats nonstop because of it, and I'm actually thinking about filing charges for slander, defamation and emotional trauma,” Mr. Clown said.

The good news is Radford expects it all to blow over soon.

“Probably by Thanksgiving it will be this weird memory of, ‘Hey, do you remember those weird clown reports?’” Radford said.

While clown costumes sales are up, at least two local police departments have asked people to dress up as something else this year.

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