Several armed teens arrested as Israel’s clown menace continues

In Jerusalem, Nazareth Illit and central Israel youths detained with masks or weapons for defense against clown threats

Clown mask and plastic gun confiscated from teenager in Nazareth Illit, October 6, 2017. (Israel police)
Clown mask and plastic gun confiscated from teenager in Nazareth Illit, October 6, 2017. (Israel police)

Police arrested several youths overnight and confiscated a variety of weapons as they continue their crackdown on the recent wave of wave teens dressing up as clowns in an attempt to frighten passersby, police said Friday.

There have been a spate of incidents in recent days and the phenomena has spurred a counter fashion of gangs of youths roaming their neighborhoods looking for the impostor clowns. Many of the clowns and clown-hunters have been armed.

In Jerusalem, a 15-year-old boy was detained after he was caught wearing a mask and carrying a plastic ax in his hand while a  16-year-old boy  was detained in a separate incident  after he was allegedly found to be carrying a knife. The boy told the police that he was carrying the knife as protection against clowns. He was detained for interrogation at the police station

Mask and plastic ax confiscated by police from a youth in Jerusalem, October 6, 2017. (Israel Police)

.Two minors aged 14 and 15 from a city in central Israel were detained for questioning, on suspicion of carrying dangerous weapons. A preliminary police investigation found that one of the minors was tagged in a list of “today’s victims” in a clowns’ group on Instagram. He told investigators he was afraid to leave his house alone, so he and his friend armed themselves with weapons for their defense.

Weapons confiscated from youths in central Israel who claim they were for defense against clowns, October 6, 2017. (Israel police)

In Nazareth Illit cops arrested a 14-year-old boy who was hiding in the bushes. After searching his bag police found a mask and a plastic pistol. He was detained at the police station and his parents were called. He was questioned under caution and released to house arrest for five days.

On Thursday night a 13-year-old was detained in Ramat Hasharon in central Israel after being caught with a clown mask and a baseball bat. He was detained after police received a report of a number of youths wearing clown masks.

Police have launched an investigation to locate the rest of the group who were with him and fled when the cops arrived.

On Thursday police said they detained a total of seven people, mainly youths, across the country for incidents relating to clown impersonations.

Earlier in the week, police had vowed “illegal” clown impersonators would be met with “strict and uncompromising police enforcement.”

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, police described the recent phenomenon as part of an “international trend that has gathered momentum on social media” and said they had detained “many youths” dressed up as clowns throughout the country.

Clip from the movie ‘It,’ thought to have helped inspire copycat clowns in the towns across Israel, September 2017. (Screen capture:YouTube)

Describing their actions as “an illegal act,” police said violators “will encounter strict and uncompromising police enforcement” and called on parents to ensure “their children are not taking part in the phenomenon, which may embroil them in criminal proceedings.”

Police also warned the clowns could be mistaken for a “credible threat” and end with the teenagers being harmed by bystanders. Police asked the public “not to take the law into its hands and not to harm the youths” since the majority of their antics did not result in any harm to people or property.

The police response came amid a spate of reports over the past week of clowns lurking in public places after dark trying to scare people, most likely inspired by the recently released horror movie “It” based on a Stephen King novel and featuring Pennywise, the dancing clown.

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