As Pokemon fever sweeps the nation thanks to a new phone app, Philadelphia police are providing safety tips to the many residents caught up in the craze.
Pokemon, short for ‘pocket monsters’, became popular with the release of a television show and video games in the 1990s and has become a cultural phenomenon across the globe. The newest installment of the Pokemon franchise has come in the form of the smart phone app, Pokemon Go. The game allows users to leave the house and explore their surroundings to catch Pokemon through augmented reality.
But officials are warning folks to be aware of their surroundings while playing. Since the app’s U.S. launch on July 6, reports of crime have begun to surface- including one armed robbery out of Missouri where it was believed the suspects targeted the victim through the application. The Philadelphia Police 35th District also tweeted Sunday night that they were seeing a string of robberies targeting victims who were using the app.
As app players enjoy the new, unexplored world around them, Philadelphia Police spokesman Eric Gripp sent NBC10 a few simple tips to keep people safe while ‘catching them all.'
- 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 Pokemon in common areas called gyms and pokestops. Obviously, you never know who you could run into while playing.
- Set limits on where your kids can go. "Don't leave the street/neighborhood without me" can limit the amount of strangers that you or your kids could encounter.
- Watch the road! I've already seen a number of people - both kids and adults - so engrossed while staring at their phones and following a map, that they've walked right into the street and into objects. Pay attention!
- And as always, if you run into an individual that is seemingly up to no good - don't hesitate to dial 911!
Besides the new app, Pokemon fans in the area are also enjoying music from the franchise. ‘Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’ is underway Sunday evening at the Mann Center in Philadelphia. The Orchestra is bringing to life new music arrangements and visuals from eras of the Pokemon video games.