twitterJoin us on Twitter @LivEcho News CRIMINAL CLOWNS CRIMINAL CLOWNS TERRORISE CITY TERRORISE CITY; Fun chiefs slam crooks in fancy dress giving comics a bad name.
Byline: JOHN SIDDLE Crime Reporter email@example.com jsiddle @
DISGUISED with colourful wigs and white face paint, the Sunday ECHO today reveals how crooks dressed as clowns carried out bogus charity collections, van dalised property and even armed robbery.
Police on Merseyside dealt with 14 incidents involving people posing as clowns in the past two years - and most were no laughing matter.
One of the red-nosed crimes was caught on camera, when a robber dressed as a clown walked into a Walton shop in July to demand cash.
The thief strolled into a currency exchange shop in County Road wearing a yellow wig, white face paint and a pink prosthetic nose and forced a terrified worker to hand over bundles of notes.
Camera footage showed the man, seemingly posing as a charity collector and holding a red bucket, calmly enter the Cheque Centre before making his demands to the female employee at the counter.
Other reports were made to police by victims of an armed robbery at a city business premises, telling how the perpe trator was dressed as a clown, and an attempted armed robbery at a shop where a man was wearing a "clown mask".
There were several calls from people suspicious of men in clown outfits collecting for charity, while one victim suffered racial abuse from a group of people - one of whom was dressed as a clown. Another victim had an egg thrown at his car by a yob wearing a clown mask.
During 2014, officers investigated four crimes committed by the costumed crooks.
In St Helens in May, a man dressed as a clown followed a child who ran away in terror before telling an adult.
In July, police investigated the horror ordeal at the Cheque Centre in Walton, before dealing the following month with a clown conning cash through a bogus charity collection.
And in October, police were called out after a clown was seen knocking on windows of homes in St Helens.
Professional clowns condemned the more sinister incidents, which they fear are giving their occupation a bad name.
Tony Eldridge, secretary of clowns International, said: "The clowning profession can do without stupid people who don't understand the profession and appreciate it is a performing art and not a spontaneous jolly jape."
And Dave Tawney, European " director of the World Clown Asso ciation, added: "Professional clowns and children's entertain ers seek only to create fun and enjoyment for their audiences and it is regrettable when persons dressed as clowns carry out antisocial behaviour."
The information was obtained t" through a freedom of informtion request to Merseyside Police.
A 32-year-old man has been . charged with robbery in connection with the Cheque Centre inci dent. He is set to stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court in March.
Funny business - the story of clowning ? The word clown first .appeared in the 1560s to describe someone clumsy or boorish The whiteface paint .many clowns wear today was designed by 19th century English music hall entertainer Joseph Grimaldi ? The traditional clown .nickname Joey is also inspired by Grimaldi, who is regarded as the father of modern clowning ? Types of clowns range .from the serious whiteface to the clumsy auguste The fear of clowns, .one of the most common phobias, is known as coulrophobia
RAID: A robber dressed as a clown at Walton's Cheque Centre in July