NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Across the United States, clown sightings seem to be moving closer and closer to home for East Texans. On Monday, several threats to North Texas schools prompted law enforcement to put several districts on lockdown until they were further investigated.
"It's one thing to have fun, but when you start affecting people's sense of safety, it's entirely different," said Nacogdoches Chief of Police Jim Sevey. "Social media drives practically everything in our society today. Someone see's where something is trending, and they want to copy it and reenact it, but it can get out of hand."
For many, it may feel as if Halloween has come early for them, but Nacogdoches Police Department said they have not responded to any official reports just yet.
"As of 6 o'clock this morning when I checked the activity log, there haven't been any reports. Do I expect it to happen? Halloween is coming," Sevey said.
The trend of clown sightings has been moving it's way towards East Texas, but the public should know that the twitter account '@ClownSighting,' alleged a young girl was kidnapped and when found and questioned, she said she was "with the clown." That report is false, and they are asking the public not to panic.
"We of course want people to report any suspicious activity because that is what we are here for," Sevey said. "Don't wait 10-15 minutes before giving us a call. If you see something just have an officer come out and inspect the area."
He said the police department is preparing for the inevitable. They have been following the trend on social media, and he said it's only a matter of time before official reports are going to be investigated in their own office.
"We live in a college town, and Halloween is coming up. I am sure we are going to see some clowns around town, but I hope people will have fun and not abuse it, and not try to scare people with it," Sevey said.
Although dressing up, wearing a mask, or painting your face with heavy makeup is not illegal, it is what those people are doing when they reveal themselves in public that police are keeping up with.
"It's not so much that someone dressed up like a clown; its about their behavior. Are they abusive? Are they assaulting someone? Those are the problem areas," Sevey said.
There are ways the prank can be taken too far. This is when he reminds the public that not everyone is as up to date on what is all just fun and games on social media, and says the prank can be misinterpreted.
"There are a lot of people, believe it or not, that don't understand the prank, the joke, the hoax, or whatever it might be," Sevey said. "They are not going to react well to this, and people do have the right, especially in Texas, to defend themselves."
For Party N' Things prepping for the upcoming Halloween season, clown costumes have been flying off the shelves, and walking out the door -even those that haven't been paid for.
"I mean we always bring in a bunch, and now we're down to only a couple, but it's been such a phase recently that we even had one stolen yesterday," said Maury Littleton, owner of Party N' Things. "Can you believe that? A clown mask stolen."
She said she hopes people can keep the Halloween spirit alive and not take things too seriously
"I think these clown sightings are a way for people to take their minds off of everything else going on in the world and just have some fun. Life is about having fun," Littleton said.
For those wanting to track some of the sightings, they can be on the lookout for one mask in particular.
"Well, watch for a green-faced clown because that's the one we're missing," Littleton said.
Once again, law enforcement wants the community to know that until official reports have been released about sightings to not panic about false reports on social media. If the public sees any suspicious activity they are asked to call law enforcement immediately.