Police fear the dark side of ‘Pokemon Go’

With the success of “Pokemon Go,” we set out to discover if any of the little monsters were hiding within the walls of our own L.A. Times newsroom.


The real world can be a dangerous place to play Pokemon Go, cops across Southern California are discovering, as the gaming app raises concerns about traffic problems and crime.

On Tuesday morning, Los Angeles Police headquarters was inundated with reports that a multi-car pileup had been caused by a driver distracted while playing Pokemon Go. Authorities were checking out the story but had yet to confirm it.

Given the popularity of the app, officials said, it was inevitable that it would begin to appear on law enforcement reports. There already have been reports of a man in Oregon being stabbed while playing the game, and of thieves in Missouri targeting people who were distracted by Pokemon Go.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Reed said that “so far we have had no reports of any crimes related to the app or players, but we’ve heard the reports elsewhere and we’re going to be sending out safety tips.”

Reed said the sheer volume of players who either are distracted or wandering unfamiliar streets could lead to crimes and accidents.

Cmdr. Mike Parker, the department’s tech guru, on Tuesday tweeted out a warning to motorists: “Please don’t #PokemonGO while you are driving. Pull over, or bring a friend.”

In fact, the game prevents players from hatching digital eggs while driving as slower, real-world movement is required for it to work.

So far, the game-related problems in Southern California appear to be minor:

On Monday night, Santa Monica police were faced with an enormous crowd packing the area around the pier as they hunted for the augmented reality game’s key character, Pikachu. And LAPD Officer Wendy Reyes said there had been reports of people trespassing on private property while playing Pokemon Go.

In a tweet Monday, @LAPDWilshire warned Pokemon Go players that the app has “total control over your Google Account. Know your risks.”

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and the Garden Grove Fire Department encouraged users in social media posts to keep their heads up and their phones down as they navigated city streets.


Hundreds of Pokemon Go fans flock to Santa Monica Pier to catch a Pikachu

Pokemon Go shows augmented reality's edge over full-on virtual reality

Pokemon Go players are finding real animals while searching for digital ones


5:16 p.m.: This post was updated with minor rewriting.

This story was posted at 12:45 p.m.