CALEXICO – The recently launched “Pokémon Go” game has caused incidents, accidents, and mayhem, so in response the Calexico Police Department is warning players to stay safe and alert as frenzy over the popular mobile game swells.
The game, which launched a few weeks ago for iPhones and Android devices, is based on the classic cartoon and video game series. Players use a GPS map to locate cartoon creatures called Pokémon. When a character is trapped, the app launches the smartphone’s camera for a mini-game where the Pokémon appear to be moving in the real world.
“The game (Pokémon Go) hit Calexico hard last week” said Sergeant Victor Legaspi, of the Calexico Police Department. “While patrolling the streets last week, I noticed quite a few youngsters glued to their cell phones while crossing the crosswalks without looking both ways and I told them to be careful because, they could get hit by a car and two days later we had an individual who was involved in a hit and run.”
According to Sgt. Legaspi, the hit and run involved a Pokémon Go player riding a bicycle trying to catch the Pokémon characters.
“The individual was riding a bicycle trying to catch a Pokémon and made an abrupt turn and while doing that, a car hit him from behind!” explained Sgt. Legaspi. “Luckily it was just a tap. The bad part is that the car left. It was the bicyclist fault but because the car left the scene it is now considered a hit and run.”
The second incident involved an individual who was playing the game while walking. He was approached by another individual who oddly began asking questions about the game.
“While patrolling I noticed an individual who looked out of place talking to another person who was playing Pokémon” explained Sgt. Legaspi. “I made a pedestrian check and it turned out the individual asking the questions had previously been arrested for burglary and numerous thefts, which lead me to think he was planning to steal the individual’s phone.”
The game requires players to move and pay attention to the touchscreen as they seek Pokémon, prompting the Calexico Police Department to urge players to stay aware of their surroundings and be careful.
“Anywhere between thirty to fifty people of all ages gather in front of San Diego State University daily after the sun sets and are there until four or five in the morning,” said Sgt. Legaspi.
Sgt. Legaspi suggests game players take the following precautions; stay vigilant, look at your surroundings, double up, let someone know where you are, contact the police department if you see anything suspicious and avoid playing the game while riding a bicycle and while driving a vehicle.
“We don’t want to enforce curfew, however if we continue to see an increase in incidents then we will have no choice.
If curfew is enforced, individuals 17 and under will not be allowed to be on the streets after 10:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 12:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.