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Clown terrorizes town: Why are clowns scary?

Clown terrorizes town in Britain. A clown has been spotted all over Northampton, U.K., spawning a Facebook page, and a town clown catcher to alleviate concerns. Why are clowns terrifying to some?

This clown has been prowling the streets of Northampton, U.K.

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A mysterious and sinister clown has been sighted prowling the streets of Northampton, U.K., causing both curiosity and concern. Nocturnal sightings of the face-painted fiend — widely dubbed The Northampton Clown — began earlier this month. The clown has not harassed, attacked, nor threatened anyone; he — or possibly she or It — merely wanders the streets creeping people out (and sometimes poses for photos).

A Facebook page was set up last week (on Friday the 13th, appropriately enough) called "Spot Northampton's Clown," featuring photos of the clown at different locations throughout the city. Someone claiming to be the clown has posted photos, updates and notes saying he's harmless and just having a bit of fun.

If it all seems like a viral prank, publicity stunt or theatrical melodrama, it may be. In fact, a second man, dressed in his own blue muscle-padded superhero costume and glasses, calling himself "Boris the Clown Catcher," has appeared on the Northampton streets on a mission to capture the creepy clown. Some have suggested that Boris is himself the Northampton Clown, adopting the role of both hero and villain in a social media prank. [Really? The 6 Most Outrageous Hoaxes]

Boston's mystery clown panic

Strange as this case is, it's not the first time that concern over clowns has gripped a city. In May 1981, police in Brookline, Mass., issued an all-points bulletin (APB) asking officers to watch for a vehicle containing potential child abductors. The vehicle, an older model van with a broken headlight and no hubcaps, was reportedly occupied by several clowns in full costume. Several children reported that clowns had tried to lure them into the van with promises of candy.


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