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Local police respond to clown sightings

(WSAZ)
Published: Sep. 20, 2016 at 4:30 PM EDT
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Following an arrest by the Front Royal Police Department of a man allegedly wearing a clown mask, law enforcement agencies in the Valley are warning residents of other potential clown sightings.

On Tuesday, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office posted to their Facebook page and the Winchester Police Department released an official statement in response.

---FREDERICK COUNTY'S WARNING---

"The Frederick County Sheriff's Office wants to make the public aware of the potential sighting of individuals wearing masks, or clown costumes," said the office's Facebook page. "There have been several incidents in the general area, as well as surrounding jurisdictions reported. The incidents in our area did not involve criminal activity."

They would like to remind everyone that if you see anything of concern in Frederick County, you can contact their office at 540-662-6162.

---WINCHESTER'S WARNING---

The Winchester Police Department says that they have received one reported sighting of a clown. On Monday evening, a caller reported seeing a person dressed as a clown near a wooded area in Jim Barnett Park. Officers searched the park and talked with people in the area, but did not find anything suspicious.

After that event, they want to remind all residents that it is illegal to wear a mask in public. Doing so is a Class 6 Felony and punishable up to 5 years in jail.

They also would like to remind everyone that there have been no cases of people being harmed by anyone dressed as clown, and there is no indication that anyone dressed as a clown has been a risk to public safety.

“If people think they are being funny, they need to realize the serious impact they are having on feelings of security in the community,” said Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher. “We will make arrests if we catch anyone wearing a mask or concealing their identity in violation of state law.”

Winchester Police also want to remind residents to call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious. They reiterate to the public not to just share such events on social media.

"Don’t post it on social media, or call police in response to a social media post. Officers will only respond to first-hand accounts. It is also illegal to falsify a call to Emergency Communications. Knowingly filing a false police report or making false statements to law enforcement is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and is punishable up to a year in jail."

Winchester Police will continue to patrol the city and provide high visibility in areas such as Shenandoah University and Jim Barnett Park.

---CLOWN SIGHTINGS IN OUR AREA---

Several clown sightings have been reported from Augusta County up to Winchester, though police have been unable to verify any of these other reports.

This follows sightings in other states where people dressed as clowns allegedly tried luring children into the woods with the promise of money.