Cosplayer dressed as Pennywise (the creepiest clown ever) from Stephen King’s It at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con on Aug. 10, 2013, in Rosemont, Ill.
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

It started in August when people in Greenville County, S.C., reported seeing a creepy clown lurking near the woods. Others said the clown was trying to lure children in the woods by offering them money. Then more people came forward, saying that the clown was in various parts of town, sometimes standing and simply staring at them, giving everyone the creeps.

Police took all the reports seriously, but upon investigating, they could not find any evidence of the clown people reported seeing.

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After that episode, more reports sprang up, the New York Times reports, this time in places like Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Rolling Stone reports that last week, a viral Facebook video reportedly showed a clown lurking in the brush along a dirt road in Florida. The video, which is shot from inside a car, cuts out as the clown begins to move and someone in the car says, “Let’s get the hell out of … ”

Kelly Reynolds of Palm Bay, Fla., told Florida Today that she saw two clowns while walking her dog.

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“I never run, but I turned and ran back to my home as fast as I can,” Reynolds said.

In Pennsylvania, York College sent out a campus safety alert after the number of reported clown sightings near campus reached eight.

Whether these are hoaxes or not, the New York Times reports that police are taking the reports seriously and investigating each claim. There have been 12 arrests related to alleged clown hoaxes in multiple states.

Police hope that by taking action, they can help avoid having potential confrontations with supposed creepy clowns become violent. A 16-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was stabbed to death after an incident reportedly involving a creepy clown, and an 18-year-old in Martinsburg, Pa., was charged with harassing, threatening and prowling around his neighbors’ home while wearing a clown mask and holding an Airsoft toy pistol.

Police say that he admitted to rapping on people’s doors and windows.