LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KVHP) - Lately, there's been a clown-sighting epidemic.
From South Carolina to Tennessee, and even up north in Pennsylvania, clowns are showing up at schools and lurking in the woods and in people's backyards, attempting to lure children.
Now they have made their way to Louisiana.
Recently students at S.J. Welsh Middle School have reported seeing clowns outside of the campus.
"I looked over and I saw a clown in the back of a house," said student Kaylee Bonderud.
Bonderud was walking to her next class last Friday when she saw the clown. There was a dance at the school later on that night - she decided not to attend.
"If there's a dance that night and you see a clown outside during school hours, out in the daylight - they're usually up to something suspicious," said Bonderud.
A clown did show up that night lurking in the yards next to the school. This sighting only confirmed what Bonderud saw earlier that day.
"I thought I was seeing things because I wasn't sure if I saw it, but once I heard that they had saw one at the dance, I knew for sure I saw one," said Bonderud.
Bonderud's father, Timothy McIver, is now worried - not only about his daughter's safety - but also about Halloween this year.
"Do I take my kid out and a lot of people are dressed like a clown?" said McIver. "What happens if we're in the middle of a big area with a bunch of people trick-or-treating and all of a sudden, you look around and a kid's gone and there's five clowns."
So what can local law enforcement actually do about these clowns?
"Until they commit a crime, there's really not anything we can do," said Deputy Chief Stitch Guillory of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office has been receiving calls about clown sightings, but it can consume valuable time.
"It ties up our personnel chasing false leads and false complaints, and that's time that could be better spent investigating real crime that's actually happening," said Guillory.
It might be a joke to some, but McIver takes the situation very seriously and wants others to do the same.
But Guillory does have a message for the public.
"If you're suspicious; if you're scared; if you're nervous, please don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call us and we'll go out and investigate it," he said.
Guillory said they can charge people if they can prove that they made a fake complaint on the clown sightings.
The Calcasieu Parish School Board said that S.J. Welsh has finished conducting their investigation and determined that the claims were unfounded.