South Carolina. Kentucky. Wisconsin. What do they all have in common? Clowns. Creepy clowns who roam the streets in the dead of night, holding bouquets of balloons. And creepy clowns are not a laughing matter, especially when there is a "vague threat of violence" attached to their comically-sized shoes.

Now mind you, some of these "threats" have already proved to be nothing more than incredibly irritating pranks. But for whatever reason, copycat clowns (or perhaps the same roving gang of immortal Bozos) keep popping up in more and more states, including Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Even if it's all bad pranks and even worse marketing schemes, they are literally being blamed for "terrorizing America."

And this week, terror appeared at our doorstep: there have been four reported creepy clown sightings in Phillipsburg, New Jersey in the last few days. Even if they are just pranksters, the descriptions of the sightings, via NJ.com, still sound like they'd make me pee my pants:

The first was about 8 p.m. Sunday in Walters Park, when three clowns allegedly came out of the woods and chased a child.

Three more were reported Monday in the Warren County community, Stettner said.

At about 5 p.m., someone was seen dressed as a clown on Hudson Street. At 7:45 p.m., a jester holding some kind of sword reportedly ran after a child on Shafer Avenue. And at about 9:30, a dark-colored truck was seen driving down Mercer Street with multiple clowns hanging out the window, according to police.

Also on Monday, a group of children near a Wilson Borough elementary school in Northampton County (Pa.) told police three people dressed as clowns chased them about 3:15 p.m., according to a news release. The clowns reportedly got into a white vehicle and drove south on Front Street. School staff, who were outside for about 30 minutes, didn't see the clowns, borough police Chief Steven Parkansky said.

Loitering in the woods? Chasing children? Brandishing "some kind of sword"? Hanging out of windows!? EVEN CARS AREN'T SAFE.

"We don't need a society living in fear," Phillipsburg police Capt. Robert Stettner said yesterday. "There's always a concern that people are copycatting for the sake of scaring people." But do we really want to live in a society that is not terrified of creepy clowns loitering in the woods with swords? Shouldn't we teach our children to resist the undeniable allure of clown college?

While Stettner discouraged the idea of "hunting" clowns, he did warn children, "You see somebody in a clown mask, don't go talk to them," which is the kind of sound life advice everyone should abide by.

Of course, NYC has already had its fair shake of creepy clown sightings in recent years, between the clown hanging around Green-Wood Cemetery and the Staten Island clown, who turned out to be terrible viral advertising for some movie we can't even bother looking up.

Anyway, there's no need to panic or keep yourself awake at night ordering cases of clown repellent. And it's important to keep in mind that not all creepy clowns are actually creepy (or clowns)—sometimes they're just very sweet kids.

[h/t Uproxx]