Groups of vigilantes dubbed ‘clown hunters’ are recruiting volunteers across Britain to carry out night patrols and hunt down so-called ‘killer clowns’.
Creepy pranksters have been spotted wielding knives and terrorising children in more than 20 towns and cities.
And now hundreds of volunteers have taken matters into their own hands and launched themselves on Facebook as The Clown Hunters.
Patrols have already taken place in a number of towns where clown sightings have been recorded.
Their Facebook page declares: “We are a group of normal guys who have a mission to STOP these idiots dressed as clowns scaring people.”
They are asking anyone who spots a clown to make a citizens’ arrest and call the police.
So far more than a dozen patrols have taken place, which have been attended by up to 20 people in towns including Taunton, Yeovil and Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
In a post on Facebook, the group said: “If your group spots a clown perform a citizens arrest if you can and phone the police.
“Catch them on video if you can. And if they have a weapon DO NOT approach them just call the police. Stay safe everyone and happy hunting.”
The group is primarily based in the South West of England, but similar patrols are set to take place across the country as the craze continues to spread.
A spokesman from the group said: “We are trying to stop this clown craze before it gets out of hand.
“These are just normal people dressed as clowns. They are scaring the elderly and children and it has to stop.
“We started this page as kind of a neighbourhood watch group. There are many people in our comuninty who are scared to go out with these clowns running around and kids who are scared to go to school.
“By patrolling the streets we hope that people will feel safer in their homes.”
More than 14 incidents were reported to police across the Thames Valley region in less than 24 hours.
In Milton Keynes, ‘killer clowns’ have been spotted while over in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, terrified shoppers at Tesco locked themselves in their cars away from a creepy figure stood silently in a clown outfit.
In Cornwall, a Clown Hunters group was established after there were reports of local children being terrorized by the creepy characters.
Founder Antony Muchas, who works as a pest-controller, said he set up the group to spread the word about clown sightings and deter clowns from returning to roam.
“I don’t like the idea of people dressed up as clowns going round with knives knocking on windows and scaring people half to death. They’re idiots, “ he said.
“I’ve got kids and a pregnant wife and a mother who lives by herself.
“There’s probably old people who wont go out to the shops because they’re frightened they might bump into a muppet dressed as a clown.”
The killer clown craze originated in America last month and has taken social media by storm, with copycat pranksters in the UK donning outfits in a bid to scare the public.
Victims of ‘killer clowns’ have reported incidents involving chainsaws, hammers, knives and sticks.
Police forces here have warned anyone dressing up as a clown to scare people could be arrested or fined for harassment.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary slammed the clowns in a Facebook post.
They said: “We’d just like to remind people of the consequences of dressing up in costumes with the intention of frightening others.
“There have been several reports nationally of people dressed as clowns behaving in an anti-social and threatening manner.
“We’ve received a small number of similar reports locally and would like to remind people that this behaviour can cause concern and worry, particularly to young children and the elderly, and they may end up committing an offence.
“Whether those involved are doing it for a joke or not this is no laughing matter.
“These are stupid acts that are really frightening people and wasting our time. Please don’t be tempted to do it. Think of the consequences.”