Public Safety

Clown sighting craze comes to Corridor

Sightings reported in Cedar Rapids, on University of Iowa campus; part of nationwide trend

This clown sighting photo, purportedly from Cedar Rapids, has been shared on Twitter hundreds of times. (photo via Twitter)
This clown sighting photo, purportedly from Cedar Rapids, has been shared on Twitter hundreds of times. (photo via Twitter)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Clown sightings are cropping up in the Corridor.

On Tuesday, both the Cedar Rapids and University of Iowa police departments reported clown sightings in their jurisdictions. Clown sightings have gone viral in communities around the United States in recent weeks.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said three local high school students capitalized on the clown craze Monday afternoon. Buelow said the three students spent some time Monday afternoon and evening driving around northwest and northeast Cedar Rapids dressed as clowns.

A photo of the boys was posted to Twitter by @ClownSighting and has been shared close to 600 times.

“They saw it on the news and thought it would be silly to dress as clowns and see what kind of reaction they’d get,” Buelow said. “Unfortunately, they did get a reaction.”

Buelow said the activity led to one call to police and prompted one person to come to the police station to report the clowns. A school resource officer was able to contact the three students involved, as well as their parents, Buelow said.

“We don’t think they are going to do it anymore,” Buelow said. “Obviously, it caused some concern ... We advised them it would not be a good idea to continue to do that.”

The teens were not charged with any crimes and nothing they did was necessarily illegal, Buelow said. However, with reports from other communities of clowns acting aggressively or engaging in criminal acts, Buelow said the boys’ actions could frighten citizens and could even provoke a reaction.

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“They do instill fear in some people,” he said. “With that attention on it right now, we can’t guarantee someone wouldn’t attack them, thinking they were going to be aggressive.”

Buelow said police also responded to a report of a clown in southeast Cedar Rapids around 3 p.m. Monday. However, that report was not substantiated.

Early Tuesday morning, the University of Iowa police posted to their Facebook page that two clown sightings have been reported on campus this week. Residence services at Mayflower Hall reported multiple students came to the front desk Monday evening and reported seeing a clown somewhere between the residence hall and Hancher Auditorium.

UI Police said there were no reports of the clowns “harming or threatening anyone.”

“The Department of Public Safety is taking all reports seriously and at this time there is no threat to the University Campus or its students,” the Facebook post read.

It is unclear where on campus the sightings took place. Anyone with information on the campus clown is asked to call UI police at 319-335-5022.

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