Guernsey County Sheriff Jeff Paden has issued a warning to individuals seeking to dress as clowns in an attempt to scare others -- you will be charged with a crime.
"In light of recent events involving 'clowns' with social media, I would like to advise anyone who dresses up like a clown or in anything related to a clown and is near a school or is chasing someone with what appears to be a weapon will be cited with one of the following charges," said Paden.
Those charges include inducing panic, disorderly conduct and/or menacing.
The sheriff's office continued to investigate numerous reported clown sightings Monday night at the Cambridge Behavioral Hospital on Old 21 Road and various other locations in the area north of Cambridge.
At 8:35 p.m., a woman reported she was driving on Broom Road off U.S. 22 when she observed two individuals dressed in "clown outfits" with white face paint. The motorist reported the clowns were carrying unknown objects at the time of the sighting.
The same motorist reported seeing another individual dressed as a clown on Oldham Road. That clown was also wearing white face paint with black diamonds painted around the eyes.
The clown on Oldham Road was reportedly brandishing a chain saw.
Approximately an hour later at 9:42 p.m., employees at Cambridge Behavioral Hospital reported multiple "clowns" outside the facility yelling to employees, "do you want to play?"
A female employee advised a sheriff's dispatcher that other employees were outside when they encountered the suspicious individuals reportedly wearing clown outfits.
Two of the individuals were reportedly in a dark-colored Ford Escape when they were seen by employees. The passenger was reportedly wearing a white mask.
A third individual was standing in the darkness talking in a "weird voice," asking employees if they want to play a game.
A deputy searching the area for the clowns was flagged down on Eastgate Drive by individual reported someone wearing a white mask was seen in the woods behind nearby apartments.
Other individuals at the former state hospital campus also reportedly flagged down a deputy to report clown sightings on the grounds.
At 11:41 p.m., deputies were again dispatched to Cambridge Behavioral Hospital after a male wearing a mask was seen driving a truck outside the facility.
The Cambridge Police Department has increased patrols around city schools in response to the clown sightings.
Several reports were received over the weekend alleging sightings and social media has listed multiple clown sightings in Cambridge and Guernsey County, including the Pleasant City area.
On Sunday at 1:32 p.m., a female motorist traveling on Georgetown Road reported an individual dressed as a clown jumped from a wooded area and chased her vehicle.
The motorist was able to flee the area without further incident. Law enforcement officials searched the area but failed to locate the "clown."
The Zanesville Police Department is also reporting receiving five clown sightings prior to press time. Zanesville police officers are also warning would-be clowns that they could be charged for inducing panic.
Two men in Steubenville reported a person dressed as a clown with a machete chased them on Lincoln Avenue near Beatty Park at 6 a.m. Friday. Police in that eastern Ohio city said they have not been able to substantiate the claim.
Sightings have been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and now Ohio.
Anyone who sees someone dressed as a clown behaving in a criminal way should call the sheriff's office, 740-439-4455; Cambridge Police Department, 740-439-4431; or the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 740-439-1388.