Several weeks ago, news reports starting appearing about people dressed as clowns "trying to lure children into the woods" in North Carolina. Or maybe it was South Carolina. Somewhere like that. Calls reporting people dressed as clowns have been coming in to police departments around the country, including here in The Show-Me State.

The Moberly Monitor-Index reported that reports of suspicious persons dressed as clowns spread earlier in the week on social media, and that some local residents expressed their desire to attack anyone in a clown costume. This prompted the following quote from the Moberly Chief of Police: "There's nothing illegal about a person walking down the street dressed like a clown. If (residents) attack those individuals, they could be subject to charges themselves. That being said, of course citizens have the right to defend themselves from harm. But you can't go looking for them. Just call the police.”

On Tuesday evening, the Hannibal Police Department received an unsubstantiated report of a passenger in a vehicle dressed as a clown. "The vehicle in question was only driving  down the roadway," said Lt. John Zerbonia. "It was not reported that this subject was attempting to scare or threaten anyone. Merely dressing in a costume is not a violation of any city ordinance or state statute. There is no active investigation into criminal activity involving people dressed in costumes at this time."

Police in Kirksville also received a report of two "creepy clowns" this week, according to KTVO, which noted: "So far, no criminal activity has been associated with the local subjects who were dressed up as clowns." In one of the Kirksville cases, two people admitted they had dressed as clowns in order to scare a friend.

The Sedalia Police Department recently issued the following statement on Facebook: "The Sedalia Police Department has received several calls, messages and questions about the threat of clowns in our area. At this time, there has been no evidence of any clown activity in this area. There have been several reports of clown sightings in this area on social media however none of these sightings have been reported to the Sedalia Police Department. Should you see anything you feel is suspicious in nature, as always, please contact the Sedalia Police Department at 660-826-8100."

Some people are absolutely terrified of clowns, which I've never quite understood. How threatening can a guy with a giant foam nose and a wig actually be? If you see some clowns, don't panic, and certainly don't attack them. They're probably just clowning around.