NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The free-to-play Pokémon Go app is a huge hit, but police say the popular new app is not just fun and games.
Less than a week after its release, the game has already become the top grossing app on iTunes. As a player walks down the street in the real world, they’ll see checkpoints on a virtual map where they can earn prizes and catch little creatures called Pokémon.
One woman in Wyoming found more than she bargained for while playing the game. Police said she discovered a body in the Wind River near the city of Riverton last Friday. The death appeared to be accidental, or possibly a drowning, according to police.
The news comes as police in Missouri said several players in the St. Louis-area were robbed by thieves who apparently used the app to lure their victims to an isolated area.
“It’s just people taking advantage of a new social media trend,” one user said, adding that he’s now nervous playing the game. “You don’t want to endanger yourself over a silly game like that.”
At level five, when people capture enough imaginary creatures, they go to landmarks, like one in Centrla Park, to lure playters to fight in gyms.
“There was a lure here just a couple of minutes ago,” Washington Heights resident Tegest Saunders said. “That is why I kept catching Pokémon.”
It’s at the many landmarks where players gather to battle it out where this game can become dangerous.
“When you get the lure, it attracts other players from wherever you are,” Adnan Ahmed said. “It does happen at night. I did try to catch Pokémon at night and there are a lot of lures, but for the most part it is safe.”
There have also been reports of users suffering injuries while playing the game.
Players have already reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world, eyes glued to their smartphone screens, in search of digital monsters. Twisted ankles, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results. The game has also induced people to post pictures of themselves on social media chasing creatures in all sorts of dangerous situations, like while driving.
CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported many police departments are issuing warnings.
“There have been pedestrians struck, vehicle accidents, and personal injuries due to falls,” the Park Ridge Police Department in New Jersey wrote on its Facebook page. “Around Park Ridge, we have also seen large groups congregating near busy roadways, while on their devices playing the game.”
“Although this is a game that encourages people to get outside and walk around, we would be remiss if we did not mention the associated risks and concerns,” the department added.
Parents are being encouraged to talk to their children about how to safely play the game.
The Pokemon Company International and Niantic, Inc. released the following statement:
We are aware that some incidents have occurred involving fans playing Pokémon GO. We encourage all people playing Pokémon GO to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times. We are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to Pokémon GO and greatly appreciate the support of our fans.