Pokémon Go a ‘nuisance’ for local law enforcement

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Ty Hodges catches a a Venonat at the Governor’s Palace July 7, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)
Ty Hodges catches a a Venonat at the Governor’s Palace July 7, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

Pokémon Go, a popular new app that allows players to catch virtual monsters in the physical world, is causing adults and children alike to take to the streets in search of collectible critters called Pokémon.

The app’s widespread popularity is posing a unique problem for local law enforcement, as they grapple with an influx of suspicious activity reports stemming from the game.

On Tuesday, an employee of a York County church called the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office to report that a group of adults were attempting to open the church’s locked doors while vacation Bible study was in session.

Unbeknownst to the church employee, the adults were attempting to get within range of a colony of Pokémon that had spawned inside the church.

While this could be considered a humorous situation for some, YPSO Lt. Dennis Ivey doesn’t find the behavior of the aspiring Pokémon collectors comical at all.

“People are not being courteous about it,” Ivey said about the game. “It appalls me that grown people are parking in a church parking lot, pulling open doors of a sanctuary trying to catch Pokémon.”

In response to the church incident, the YPSO Facebook page published a post encouraging players of the game to not play while driving, avoid trespassing on private property and to refrain from catching Pokémon at schools, churches and cemeteries at night, which in some cases may be illegal.

While the Facebook post was not an attempt to discourage people from playing the game, it did remind players that their quests to catch virtual creatures might lead to real-world consequences.

“How important is it to get your Pokémon?” Ivey posited. “Do you want to commit a crime, scare people or walk in front of traffic when not paying attention? Use some self control or common sense.”

Ivey, who called the game a “nuisance” for law enforcement, said not everyone plays mobile games and many are unaware of what people wandering around town are doing. As a result, some players of the game risk being mistaken for thieves or potential home invaders.

According to Ivey, the best way to stay safe while playing Pokémon Go is to be respectful of people’s property and obey the law, even if that means missing out on potential Poké-jackpots.