As the mobile game Pokemon Go continues to grow in popularity, police and fire in Renton and around the region are warning players to stay safe while playing and asking that they not play at certain locations.
The Renton police this week, for example, put out a press release reminding players to “look up from your phone and pay attention to the real world.”
The game, which uses augmented reality to combine the real world with the game space through a mobile phone app, encourages players to get out and explore their neighborhoods and cities in search of digital Pokemon.
But along with the game, there have been many reports are coming in to police agencies of accidents, injuries and even crime. Suspects are even allegedly using the game to lure victims to specific areas, only to rob them of their phones or other belongings.
The Renton police department offers the following safety tips:
• Make sure you’re in a safe neighborhood or public area;
• Parent’s should be playing with young children to keep them safe;
• Make sure you’re not wandering into the street or traffic – be aware of surroundings;
• Be respectful of private property; do not seek out Pokemon in someone’s yard without permission; and
• Avoid going out after dark.
In addition to personal safety concerns, some other local agencies are asking players to avoid their properties.
The Renton Regional Fire Authority, for example, is warning gamers not to try to “catch monsters” on their property, for the safety of both emergency crews and the public.
According to a press release from the RRFA, Pokemon are found in many places; but not in the middle of the road or at the Fire Station and its parking lot warns Fire Chief Mark Peterson.
“This new game, ‘Pokemon GO’ is a great way for people to get outside, get some exercise, and interact with their community, but use caution,” he said.
Firefighters said they are concerned with the volume of gamers who are wandering around station parking lots and the increased danger it creates for emergency responders when leaving or returning to the station.
In the past week the RRFA reports numerous individuals walking around fire stations in Renton, sitting in the parking lot on the asphalt or curbing for long periods of time and even entering the station asking to walk around in search of Pokemon.
“In short,” reads the press release, “if the new Pokemon GO app tells you to go to a local fire station or even the middle of the road for a ‘Poke Stop,’ don’t go there.”
State police on Tuesday also put out a press release detailing what is believed to be the first Pokemon Go-related distracted driving collision, which occurred Monday in Fall City. One driver rear-ended another car which was stopped to make a left turn. When police contacted the driver, he admitted to being distracted by the app.
Troopers urged Pokemon Go players to not “catch and drive.”
“It’s more dangerous than texting and driving,” reads the release.