Furthermore, the Swedish version of the clown obsession isn't limited to innocent pranks, as the masked perpetrators wield solid steel and blunt weapons and physically assault their victims, rather than simply scaring them and inducing panic. Last week, a 19-year-old man was hurt in an attack by an unidentified knifeman wearing a clown mask in the town of Varberg, on the west coast of Sweden, the Swedish daily Göteborgs-Posten reported.
On Thursday, a woman in the town of Skänninge in Östergötland County was reported to have received death threats from two clowns, who were wielding "big knives." On Sunday morning, three clown-clad perpetrators wielding broken bottles assaulted a 20-year-old man in Falköping.
Another instance of clown pranks clearly gone awry involves an elderly woman with a walker, who was pestered by four people wearing clown masks, the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen reported.
In spite of having stocked additional clown masks for Halloween, the staff took the bold decision to remove them from shelves, Swedish news outlet Nyheter24 reported.
"This is sad, of course. We hope that customers can find something else. It's shame that people kill others' joy through intimidation. It is our responsibility in that we do assist those people in finding this stuff," store manager Andreas Fransén told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.
"We don't want a person to risk serious problems because they, perhaps partly for fun, put on a clown mask. Because obviously after what has happened in other countries, the police will be alert," Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said last week. "It's Halloween in a few weeks and that's a weekend on which we most certainly don't want any tragic misunderstandings."