The Clown Craze Is Down Under, And Here's What You Need To Know About It

And yes, police are doing something about it.

11/10/2016 5:00 PM AEDT | Updated 12/10/2016 9:38 PM AEDT
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Clown sightings have spread from the United States and United Kingdom to Australia.

The Clown Craze has well and truly made its way down under, with Aussies in a number of states arrested for dressing up and causing trouble in the latest frightening trend.

Arrests have been made in the United States and the U.K, but as the phenomenon has spread globally, Facebook pages supporting the creepy clown trend have been established in Australia, along with pages dedicated to spotting culprits.

Clown Hunters Australia has over 5,000 likes while Clown Purge Sydney has more than 15,000 likes.

So what exactly is the behaviour? Well, it varies.

The clown appearances across the country have ranged from individuals in clown outfits bearing axes and terrorising members of the public to simply wearing a clown mask on a bus.

Either way, authorities deem the act intimidating and anti-social -- and in most cases, offenders frighten unsuspecting victims.

So as the issue grows collectively across the country, let's take a look at where the phenomenon began, where it is rising Down Under and how police are responding to the creepy craze.

How many arrests and sightings have occurred in Australia?

Numerous sightings have occurred throughout eastern states, with New South Wales police receiving a "small number of credible reports" of people wearing clown masks.

Victorian Police have warned against people adopting the craze, confirming the trend is criminal behaviour and is "simply not funny".

In Victoria's south-east on Monday, a man in a clown mask wielding an axe was arrested after approaching customers outside a fast food restaurant in Victoria's south-east.

In the ACT, police were called after a group of men dressed as clowns were reported carrying bats in Canberra's south. However, police could not find the men after an extensive search.

In Queensland, a Brisbane woman said she almost drove over a clown after he or she approached her car with a knife.

In Western Australia, a 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour and possession of a disguise after chasing a group of teenage girls in a clown suit in a shopping district east of Perth on Saturday night.

Among other reports of clown sightings across the state, a woman told police she hit a pedestrian dressed as a clown in Perth on Sunday morning.

So there's been a number of arrests, a lot of sightings and -- according to the NSW Police -- a number of false reports.

How are police responding?

Police across the country are not tolerating the "anti-social" behaviour with Victorian Police confirming the penalty for possessing an article of disguise is up to two years' imprisonment.

Queensland Police Minister Bill Byrne has condemned the craze as "disgraceful" and has indicated police across the state will have a zero tolerance approach.

New South Wales Police have urged the public to inform authorities of any sightings but told The Huffington Post Australia a number of reports have proved to be false.

"Police are urging anyone who is the victim of or witness to an offence to contact police or Crime Stoppers," a NSW Police spokesperson told HuffPost Australia.

"At this stage, the NSW Police Force has received a small number of credible reports of events involving people wearing clown masks."

ACT Police have also warned the 'clown purge' won't be tolerated and any "intimidating, threatening or anti-social behaviour" will be investigated by authorities.

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These men are dressed up on Halloween, but many are dressing up for the clown craze which is deemed anti-social and threatening.

So, where did it all begin?

It has been widely reported the 'clown purge' trend first originated from South Carolina where, in August, reports emerged of clowns trying to lure children into the woods.

Copycat pranksters began popping up across the United States, with schools in Texas and Alabama even going into lockdown after threats.

However, sightings and arrests over clowns terrorising the public had occurred several years earlier in a number of British towns in 2013.

A man, referred to as the Mansfield Clown, was known to terrify residents in Nottinghamshire, while residents in Normanton in West Yorkshire urged police to take action after a number of clowns were spotted terrifying members of the public.

So the trend has been around for years, not months, although it's only recently that it has grown into a global craze, which hopefully will be short-lived, as clowns at kids' parties are losing business and Ronald McDonald has been forced to keep a low profile.

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