Police were called to a Hartlepool park after reports of three people dressed as so called ‘killer clowns’ chasing people with claw hammers.
Officers searched Burn Valley Gardens following the reports of pranksters scaring people at around 9pm on Monday night.
Cleveland Police have received dozens of calls over the ‘absurd craze’ which has come to the UK from America including eight in Hartlepool.
But the force is urging people to think twice before calling them saying it is diverting valuable resources.
It is also urging the pranksters not to do it in case the spooked public attack them in response.
A Cleveland Police spokesperson said: “In common with many other UK forces, we are receiving reports of people dressed as clowns in public places.
It could cause alarm, fear or distress to others, particularly the very young or older peopleCleveland Police
“It appears that the more foolish members of our communities have latched onto this absurd craze and are taking part.
“Police resources are being diverted from those in genuine need of our assistance and we would remind the public to consider carefully whether a police response is actually required.
“Although it is not a crime to dress up as a clown and go out in public, it could cause alarm, fear or distress to others, particularly the very young or older people.
“Similarly people who are afraid or feel threatened may react strongly, putting the costumed person in danger and we would therefore strongly advise against taking part in such activity.”
Between October 4 and 9, the force says there have been 44 clown incidents including six in Hartlepool.
Another 18 sightings were reported on Monday, including two in Hartlepool.
A police community support officer attended St Hild’s School yesterday afternoon after an online threat by someone dressed as a clown to attend.
Most of the local sightings have been reported on a night with the peak time between 8pm and 10pm.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for crime operations, Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “Police forces have been dealing with some instances of people who are dressing up as clowns in order to frighten others.
“Anyone with concerns should report to police on 101 so that we can investigate.
While some might view this as funny, the act of frightening or threatening others may be enough to warrant public order criminal offences.”