POKEMON GO! Game spawns robberies, complaints

The new augmented reality game that’s shattered sales records and taken the virtual world by storm has also sparked a wave of robberies and other complaints, including at least one in north central Wisconsin.


In its first 24 hours of release the Pokemon Go app was installed on more phones than the dating app Tinder and is on track to surpass Twitter in daily Android users, according to Nintendo, the game’s creator. Lured by the nostalgia of the popular 1990s franchise and intrigued by the game’s new reality style, Pokemon Go users find themselves hunting down virtual Pokemon creatures mapped into offices, schools, hospitals, backyards, malls and parks—all in their hometown. Local players often visit sites such as Memorial Park and the Wausau Center mall, which digitally become “gyms,” where epic battles are fought between rival teams. Sounds like fun, right?

But some users find themselves trespassing on private property, and Wausau Police say they have found “dozens upon dozens” of people in city parks late at night trying to catch the mythical creatures.

“City parks close at 11, and the Pokemon catching will need to wait until 6 am when they reopen,” the department posted on its Facebook page.

Some more serious incidents have also occurred, including several reports of armed robberies across the country where the suspects lure their victims to “Poke-Stops,” virtual sites that can be designated at any real world location.

Police officials are urging players to watch their surroundings while playing, respect private property, avoid playing while driving and play in groups to avoid potential problems.