Police in Sweden are hunting a man in a clown mask who was seen holding “something sharp” while scaring an eight-year-old boy on the way to school.
The creepy figure, believed to be in his 20s, was forced away when a passing motorist saw what was happening and honked his horn.
Stefan Dangardt, a police spokesman, said the man had red hair and a painted white face.
The disturbing incident took place on Thursday last week in Kumla, a small town about 100 miles west of the capital Stockholm.
Police are hoping the episode does not mark a recurrence of the wave of scary clowns intimidating members of the public two years ago.
The craze first hit Sweden in 2016 and is thought to be copied from a similar trend in the United States.
Dozens of cases of people dressed as clowns terrorising and sometimes attacking people were reported across Sweden.
In October that year, one police force received 70 calls about scary clowns in just 24 hours. Often the pranksters carried knives and on a few occasions even slashed and stabbed people.
A similar clown panic hit neighbouring countries such as Norway and Denmark. One Norwegian toy shop chain stopped selling clown costumes in its 114 shops.
Some have theorised that the trend began with people dressing up as the terrifying clown monster Pennywise, from Stephen King’s horror novel It.
When the craze first swept Sweden, experts suggested the growth of the internet and social media was helping ideas and trends spread much faster.
Marie Grusell, a media researcher at Gothenburg University, told the news agency TT that it resembled a “social virus”.
“Everyone wants to take part in something new,” she said. “The spread of news is much faster nowadays.
“Therefore, one can compare it to a virus. In the US, the clowns appeared in really creepy places, the images have been widely adopted, and then it’s got a life of its own in the media.”