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Amid crime worries, police explain how to play 'Pokemon Go' safely

Amid crime worries, police explain how to play 'Pokemon Go' safely
Damien Hyatt, 23, left, and his brother, Eron Hyatt, 21, right, play "Pokemon Go," while walking around an office building. Law enforcement agencies nationwide has issued warnings over the game. (Russell Contreras)

The "Pokemon Go" craze has players roaming the streets in large numbers – and that has led to some brushes with law enforcement, both good and bad.

Several robberies have been reported, including one in which a man stole the smartphone of a teenage brother and sister in San Francisco. Two men focused on the scavenger hunt-like game were robbed and carjacked this week in the town of Antelope in Northern California.

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And two men playing "Pokemon Go" in downtown Fullerton helped police catch a man who was wanted in Sonoma County on suspicion of attempted murder, authorities said.

The app uses a player's smartphone camera and GPS technology to guide them to real locations to "collect" Pokemon, or "pocket monsters," in real locations. Players point the camera and virtual characters appear against the real world backdrop. Then players toss a virtual ball to capture that character.

San Francisco Police Capt, Raj Vaswani issued his own tip sheet to residents in the Bay Area for staying safe.

Vaswani said players should "know your surroundings and pay attention to where you are going/who is around you. If you get the sense you are being followed or set up for a robbery, head to a lighted area with people around."

He reminds players to not look down at your phone while crossing streets, getting off buses, or even while walking.

"Do not run into trees, meters, and things that are attached to the sidewalk; they hurt."

"Do not drive or ride your bike / skateboard / hipster techie device while interacting with the app." He warns. " Do not go onto private property, dark alleys, or areas that you usually would not go if you weren't playing the game."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued its own suggestions to players:

  • Don’t play while driving.  The last thing we need is a dead Pokémon.

  • Stay vigilant as you play. Distraction can cause injuries, especially when you walk into traffic.

  • Play in well-lit areas. As far as we know, there are no glow-in-the-dark Pokémon.

  • If you suspect you are being followed, yell for help and use your phone to call 911.

  • Gamers are strangers, too. Just because they like Pokemon does not mean they will be nice to you. Be cautious of being lured into a bad situation.

  • Pokemon have homes too … just not yours. So if you are not invited, stay out of private property. We can guarantee you won’t find Pokemon in a jail.

  • Although you may not be able to battle your real-life BFF, you can definitely teach him some things. So have him walk with you.

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