This article originally appeared on Huffington Post by Nina Golgowski on September 6th, 2016.
The number of clowns prowling around neighborhoods and calling out to children appears to be on the rise, with the latest reported sightings coming out of North Carolina.
Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, a resident reported seeing a masked figure emerging from woods near an apartment complex in Greensboro, North Carolina, police announced in a release.
The figure was described as wearing a “scary clown mask, red curly wig, yellow dotted shirt, blue clown pants and clown shoes,” police said.
A second person who says he saw the clown responded by arming himself with a machete and chasing the masked man back into the woods. However, police said they couldn’t locate the suspect during a search.
Two days earlier, children had reported seeing a similarly dressed figure prowling around their community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about 30 miles to the west.
They described a creepy character wearing “white overalls, white gloves, red shoes with red bushy hair, a white face and a red nose,” Winston-Salem police stated in an incident report obtained Tuesday by The Huffington Post.
That mystery man allegedly offered the kids treats if they would follow him into the woods. One adult apparently heard but did not see the clown, according to police.
That call came around 8:30 p.m., and police said another followed about four hours later. Officers responded to the scene, about 1.5 miles away, but didn’t find anyone matching the caller’s description.
The chilling incidents come about two weeks after residents in Greenville, South Carolina ― a town about 180 miles southwest of Winston-Salem ― reported similar sightings.
According to an incident report filed at the time, children and adults said they saw several clowns wandering around Greenville’s Fleetwood Manor Apartment Complex beginning on Aug. 19.
Some of the masked figures allegedly even called out to the children and displayed large amounts of money in a bid to lure them closer, witnesses told the local sheriff’s office.
Authorities have said that they are increasing surveillance, and hope to discourage pranksters from carrying out similar behavior.
“Although it is lawful to dress as a clown, given the heightened tensions about these entertainers, officials are discouraging ‘copycat’ behavior by individuals who may find it humorous to mimic suspicious behavior,” Greensboro police said in their release. “Copycats unnecessarily alarm the public and place an unnecessary drain on police resources.”