A Belfast family was left “frightened and unsettled” after a mysterious concrete slab painted with a clown’s face appeared in their back garden.
It shows the clown holding a lit candle, with Biblical verse inscribed on the reverse side of the slab.
Mark (38), who asked only to be identified by his first name, said his family discovered the painting last week.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: “When my wife and I left for work in the morning as normal, it wasn’t there.
“But when she got home with our two daughters in the mid-afternoon, she looked out the window and noticed it.”
After being sent a photograph of the painting by his “scared” wife, Mark told her not to touch the slab until he came home from work.
He said: “My wife was obviously creeped out. Someone would have had to come through our gate and down the steps to place it there — and deliberately place it so it was facing the window so we would see it.”
Things became even stranger when, after lifting the slab, Mark discovered Biblical verse inscribed on the back.
“It read, ‘Let your light shine, Matthew 5:16’” he said.
The verse, which in full refers to “glorifying your Father in heaven”, is quoted by Christians when calling for people to show kindness to others.
“We contacted friends and family to see if it was part of a prank,” said Mark.
“I checked with the neighbours to see if they had [seen] anything similar, but it was just us.”
After he went on social media to ask if anyone had experienced anything similar, many speculated it could be an elaborate tactic used by burglars and dog-nappers to mark houses they wish to target.
He was quick to dispel these theories, however, pointing out that anyone using the painting to mark the house “wouldn’t be able to see it from the street”.
Others jokingly suggested that he move house and made comparisons to Pennywise, the murderous clown from Stephen King’s IT.
Mark said that while the incident was disturbing, he had decided against reporting the matter to the PSNI.
“We ended up throwing it in the bin and told our children, both of whom are under five, that it was a silly picture,” he added.
“The most disturbing thing is why [it was done]. Why specifically our property?
“We have no idea who would do this, but with two children at home, it’s so unsettling.”