The Penn Yan Police Department has issued a warning to those who might be thinking about putting on a clown mask, as the national craze involving “creepy clowns” moves into the Finger Lakes.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Penn Yan Police Department said:
Penn Yan Police wish to warn residents of the potential consequences involving the recent rash of person’s dressing up in clown masks while in public. This recent phenomena of person’s wearing clown masks originated in south eastern United States and now has progressed to our area. Several complaints have been received by both Yates County Sheriff’s Office and the Penn Yan Police Department.
Residents are warned that dressing up in clown masks, or any masks in general while in a public place, is a violation of loitering, under New York State Penal Law Section 240.35(4), which states: A person is guilty of loitering when, (4) Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city, which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from police or other appropriate authorities.
Residents are asked to refrain from such activities that could potentially place themselves at risk of physical danger to themselves or the public, as well as, being charged with violation for persons age 16 or older, which is punishable up to 15 days in jail and/or a $250 fine.
An earlier incident, which happened over the weekend in Canandaigua — involved a 16-year-old walking along a roadway in a striped clown suit, with a clown mask. Worried residents called and complained to law enforcement about the mask — but it was not the first, or only reported incident in Ontario County.
In Seneca County — the report of a “clown sighting” came into law enforcement, which was eventually debunked as a falsely reported incident by a minor.
The rise of these types of incidents have caused a significant amount of concern and skepticism among those living in the region. It’s unclear how these incidents will be handled in individual counties, but it’s clear that falsely reporting an incident — or taking part in any of these activities — which are a concern for law enforcement is an unnecessary risk.