The so-called ‘Killer Clown’ craze which has gripped the Causeway Coast and Glens area in recent days must stop before it leads to tragedy.
That was the stark warning from police and elected representatives after an incident at Ballymoney’s Riverside Park.
UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson said: “On Friday afternoon in Ballymoney a group of teenagers thought it would be clever to dress up as a ‘killer clowns’ and brandish a knife at children in a local park.
“Incidents such as these will not be well received or taken as a joke in most cases. Those responsible may feel that their actions are harmless, however they are causing distress to others while putting themselves in harms way too. I would strongly urge those responsible to put an end to this threatening behaviour immediately.”
With Coleraine Grammar School on lock down for a period on Friday amid concerns it was to be the target of pranksters and a killer clown photo posted on social media, supposedly taken outside Cullybackey College, police have warned of the consequences for those responsible.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “I would advise anyone who may be considering posting information on social media platforms to consider what they’re saying. Encouraging behaviour that has the potential to generate fear or indeed posting threatening messages can lead to a criminal record.
“Crime is crime, whether in the virtual world or the real world and there are consequences. Please don’t get caught up in something that could jeopardise your future.”
Echoing these sentiments in the run up to Halloween, UUP MLA Robin Swann appealed for the community’s support in helping police tackle the issue.
He said: “I issue a plea to young people who may be considering taking part in the pathetic killer clown craze which is now sweeping Northern Ireland - please think twice before someone is either seriously hurt or dies.
“What may seem like a bit of fun, could end up in a criminal record that could affect the rest of your life.
“The act itself is highly irresponsible where sad individuals get a kick out of scaring old and young alike. If this childish and potentially fatal craze is not eradicated, we could have a situation where an elderly person, or any individual with a heart condition, dies from the fright.
“These killer clown craze activities tie up over-stretched PSNI resources as well as providing cover for other crime. I appeal to the entire community to assist the police in putting an end to this latest anti-social scourge.”