Last week, police in Pennsylvania issued a PSA warning residents that, with the premiere of IT around the corner, we might be in for a new wave of "creepy clown sightings" on par with the epidemic that hit 16 states across the country last year.
It looks like those dire forecasts are already coming true.
Police in Lititz—which bills itself as "America's coolest small town"—issued a statement Tuesday announcing they found a handful of red balloons tied to sewer grates throughout the quaint southeast Pennsylvania city, local CBS affiliate KDKA reports. It's a move straight out of Pennywise's playbook: The terrifying clown at the center of IT is known to lurk in the sewers, and leaves red balloons floating all over the small Maine town he's hell-bent on terrorizing.
"A certain movie is coming to theaters in two days, and a local prankster took it upon themselves to promote the movie," the Litiz Borough Police Department wrote on Facebook. "We want the local prankster to know that we were completely terrified as we removed these balloons from the grates and we respectfully request they do not do that again."
The latest adaptation of Steven King's 1984 horror novel, directed by Andrés Muschietti, hits theaters Friday. Naturally, fans across the country—including a band of actual, terrifying clowns—are gearing up to go see Pennywise scare the shit out of a bunch of tweens.
While a spooky, costumed murderer wreaking havoc on small-town America might sound like the stuff of fantasy, there are legit reasons for cops to be so freaked out by the idea. Back in May, a clown with bladed gloves was accused of hacking a man to death in Denver. Two months later, in an apparently unrelated incident, police arrested a drunken harlequin gallivanting through the woods of Maine with a machete strapped to his arm.
The Lititz police seem pretty convinced the balloons they found are the work of some sort of jokester. Which, well, makes sense. But it might be wise to steer extra clear of sewer grates until this whole thing blows over.
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