As the augmented reality smartphone game Pokémon Go has taken over the country, it has not exploded in popularity without some side effects.
The video game already boasts nearly 10 million players in the United States, who roam neighborhoods, parks and – at times – trespass, usually unwittingly, on private property to capture the elusive monsters.
Local law enforcement has already dealt with several calls of suspicious looking people wandering around at all hours in areas, cellphones held out before them – appearing to be taking pictures.
Players can also drop ‘lures’, a kind of bait to attract more monsters in certain areas that are marked as Poké Stops, usually found to be landmarks and other public installations.
”Someone can lure people for negative intentions to a certain location, possibly with negative intentions,” Council Bluffs Police Department officer David Burns said.
Already the department has dealt with unnecessary calls for service, as both children and adults are hanging around areas they wouldn’t normally congregate near for the sake of collecting.
“There’s a character my daughters tried catching in our neighborhood, I saw kids cutting through yards and trespassing,” Burns said. “There’s definitely a level of stress being added to the community.”
Players are already warned to be aware of their surroundings each time they start playing the game through a message.
The police department posted a warning on its Facebook page that players need to respect the rights of property owners, posted hours of operations for public and private property and to use common sense.
”Parents need to have an understanding of what games are on their children’s cellphones, and what the kids are involved in,” Burns added.
Indeed, accidents and tragedy have already befallen players.
Two men fell more than 50 feet down the side of an unstable cliff in Southern California Wednesday – both suffered moderate injuries, according to the Associated Press.
A 19-year-old in New York City had his smartphone stolen Wednesday night while playing the game – he was robbed at gunpoint.
Two players were arrested at the Toledo Zoo after allegedly going over a fence into the tiger enclosure in search of monsters.
Tigers are not Pokémon and cannot be captured with conventional Pokéballs.
The men were caught early Thursday by the zoo’s security camera.
And on Thursday, three women found a dead body near a creek bed in a San Diego Park. The women found human bones – which had been dead for some time – in Marian Bear Memorial Park, according to a San Diego Police Department officer. “That’s not part of the game,” one of the officers said. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.