The Pokémon Go augmented reality game has lured gamers out of their living rooms and into neighborhoods, parks, and museums. Unwary players have also ended up in police stations, dangerous intersections, private property, and emergency rooms. Unlucky players have been shot at, robbed, and assaulted. Don’t be one of them.
Trespassing: When Pokémon Go Meets “Stand Your Ground”
Unfortunately, some game locations have been mistakenly located on private property. That has resulted in confrontations with homeowners who mistake players for prowlers. A Kansas homeowner with a Pokémon Go gym in his front yard was so frustrated by trespassers wandering the property that he strategically placed dog poop on the lawn to deter them.
Others use more aggressive tactics. A Florida homeowner mistook two teen Pokémon Go players for thieves and shot at them. The young men were parked on the street at 1:30am when they were confronted by the gun-toting resident. As the frightened players drove away, the homeowner fired several shots into the vehicle. That could easily have been a fatal encounter on both sides. It’s far better to monitor the outside of your property with a home security camera and alert police than to directly confront someone yourself.
Avoid trespassing: property owners don’t know whether you’re a prowler, peeper, or Pikachu hunter. A gamer pointing a smartphone at someone’s home or towards a playground could easily be a burglar casing houses in a neighborhood or a stalker/kidnapper. Police in many countries have cautioned players about the danger of trespassing and warned that they could be arrested.
Stop, Look, and Listen at Poke Stops
Many players have suffered minor injuries when, absorbed by the game, they tripped over tree roots or fell off curbs, but others have been assaulted and stabbed. Unfortunately, some gamers have fallen for “fake lures” that delivered them to real world monsters instead of Pidgey or Jiggleypuff.
Four teens allegedly used the newly-released “Pokémon Go” app to commit multiple robberies in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.
Police believe the suspects conducted multiple armed robberies by targeting their victims through the mobile game “Pokémon Go.” They believe the suspects added a beacon near a Poke-stop in their location, which could lure more players nearby.
Police warn players to be careful about alerting others to their future locations. Thieves know that, at the very least, players are carrying smartphones. Other players have been robbed of wallets and other valuables too.
Some players have even found dead bodies and venomous snakes at Poke Stops, though that’s hardly the developers’ fault. The game a high-tech scavenger hunt, and you never know what – or who – you might find.
There’s safety in numbers: always play with a group of people, never allow children to play unsupervised, and watch your step!
Use Common Sense While Playing
Pokémon Go promises to lead players to special places of interest around the world, but some Poke Stops and gyms really stretch the meaning of the term “special” to mean “dangerous or wildly unsuitable” (at least for some players):
- A California facility that houses sex offenders.
- High voltage power lines.
- A sex shop in the UK.
- The back entrance of a methadone clinic in Australia.
And watch where you’re going! Don’t be like these guys:
- Two men fell down a cliff while playing.
- A man drove his car into a tree and admitted playing while driving.
Part of the allure of Pokémon Go is the social aspect and novelty of visiting unfamiliar places. That’s also part of the danger. Play in groups – particularly after dark – don’t go on private property, and stay alert to your surroundings. Who knows? You may help catch a criminal instead of being a victim of one.