The Pokemon Go crimewave: Robbers, thieves and paedophiles target 300 gamers in one month

 

  • Almost 300 offences have been reported since the game was launched
  • Police say the thieves are using the app to get players in one place
  • Sergeant Neil Dewson-Smyth said the figures were ‘worrying’

 

Police are tackling a mini crimewave sparked by Pokemon Go as robbers, thieves and even potential paedophiles target gamers.

Almost 300 offences have been reported nationwide since the popular smartphone app launched this summer.

Players entranced by the game as they hunt virtual Pokemon creatures have inevitably been rich pickings for thieves.

Two major urban forces said professional thieves even used the game to set up ‘lures’ to entice victims to one place.

Robbers, thieves and potential paedophiles are targeting Pokemon Go players (stock photo) 

Robbers, thieves and potential paedophiles are targeting Pokemon Go players (stock photo)

 

Almost 300 offences have been reported nationwide since the popular smartphone app launched this summer

Almost 300 offences have been reported nationwide since the popular smartphone app launched this summer

But in Surrey, police were called when a hunt for presumably one of the rarer ‘finds’ descended into a mass brawl involving 30 people.

Officers also received reports of gamers – many of whom are young children – trespassing on railway lines and in the road.

And in one troubling incident in North Wales, police investigated a man who invited children back to his home ‘as he had lots of Pokemon at his address’.

Launched in the UK in July, Pokemon Go is a hugely popular game in which cartoon creatures are projected on to real locations using the phone’s camera.

But now, data released by 29 forces to the BBC under freedom of information laws has revealed the extent of the challenges posed in the first month of its release.

Greater Manchester Police and the Met recorded incidents of Pokemon ‘lures’ being set up, as robbers used the game to distract victims before snatching their mobile phones.

South Yorkshire Police said a player had been punched and had their phone taken by three ‘unknown assailants’. British Transport Police recorded two incidents of children walking on railways, and several drivers were spotted playing at the wheel.

Other incidents were less clear. West Midlands Police referred to someone being ‘offered sexual favours’ and a troubled woman contacted West Yorkshire Police concerned that Pokemon characters were trying to ‘get into her home’.

And West Mercia Police recorded a ‘road accident while playing Pokemon’ but didn’t provide any more details.

Players entranced by the game as they hunt virtual Pokemon creatures have inevitably been rich pickings for thieves

Players entranced by the game as they hunt virtual Pokemon creatures have inevitably been rich pickings for thieves

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Lancashire Police logged 39 incidents – the highest figure. West Mercia Police recorded 32 incidents, the second highest, while Thames Valley and North Yorkshire logged just two each.

Most forces declined to specify further details including how many arrests had been made, with several citing ongoing investigations.

Sergeant Neil Dewson-Smyth, of Cheshire Police, said the figures were ‘worrying’.

He added: ‘For me the key message is do not play it while driving. It’s a fun game, but play safe and don’t put lives at risk.’

Lancashire Police said: ‘People should avoid potentially dangerous locations that could make you vulnerable to injury or become a victim of crime.’

A spokesman for Niantic, which made the game, said: ‘We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play alongside friends or family.

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