The Wake Forest Police Department is joining a growing number of law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions across the U.S. and around the world to warn its citizens about the increasingly popular Pokémon Go smartphone game.
Pokémon, short for “pocket monsters,” became popular in the 1990s with the release of a television show and video games. Since then, it has become a cultural phenomenon across the globe.
The newest installment of the Pokémon franchise has come in the form of the smart phone app,Pokémon Go. The game allows users to leave the house and use their smartphone or tablet camera to explore their surroundings and catcPokémon” through augmented reality. Among other things, users also visit “PokéStops” and “PokéGyms,” typically located at public landmarks, parks, and churches.
Since the game’s release on July 6, Wake Forest police have witnessed a rise in trespassing and other suspicious activities around town. Officers have located numbers of people going to businesses, churches, and government buildings when they are closed in search of Pokémon characters. Police have also reported people staying in public parks after hours to play the game, when they can “catch” Pokémon that only come out at night. Police officials say those actions are considered trespassing and potentially puts the individuals at risk.
Police are also warning motorists about the dangers of driving and playingPokémon Go. They also urge players to be aware of their surroundings while walking around in public.
For those caught up in the Pokémon Go craze, the police department is offering the following safety tips:
• Watch out for your surroundings: Look up and be aware of who is around you;
• Parents limit places kids can go: Set boundaries to avoid stranger danger for kids who are unattended;
• Don’t Pokémon Go and drive: Catching Pikachu isn’t worth crashing;
• Tell people where you’re going if it is somewhere you’ve never been;
• Don’t trespass: People might call the police if you enter private property and hunting for Pokémon and other virtual characters is no excuse;
• If you are stopped by police: Show them you are playing a game;
• Parents – tell your kids about stranger-danger. The way that the game is designed can bring people together in the real world as they search for Pokémon in common areas called “gyms” and “PokéStops.” Obviously, you never know who you could run into while playing.
• And as always, if you run into an individual that is seemingly up to no good – don’t hesitate to dial 911!
— August 2016