Pokémon Go is getting people arrested, shot at, and possibly killed.
The hit game is designed around finding Pokémon in the real world. This has led its players to seek out places where rare Pokémon or the all-important PokéStops can be found. It’s also led them right to someone else’s property, and as it turns out, no one cares if someone’s only trespassing because they wanna catch ‘em all.
One incident saw roughly 150 people trespass in a Florida park to play the game. Most of the crowd left when police told them to, but one man was arrested for refusing to comply. (He was also charged with resisting arrest for grabbing a police officer’s arm.)
Police in Texas, Arizona, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC have warned Pokémon Go players not to trespass while playing the game. Departments in other states, including Massachusetts and Virginia, have also reported a rise in trespassing and told Pokémon Go players to obey the law.
This problem isn’t exclusive to the U.S., either. A teen in Guatemala was killed after he allegedly broke into someone’s home while playing Pokémon Go, and residents of the Rhodes suburb outside Sydney, Australia have thrown eggs and water balloons at Pokémon Go players because they’re sick of the massive crowds their Pokémon-and-PokéStop-rich town attracts.
Some people respond to the trespassing well. The person who wrote the sign depicted above, for example, merely wrote a humorous note warning people not to go on their lawn. That’s fine! It gets the point across, and while it’s awfully dismissive of a game that many people already love, it doesn’t hurt anyone.
Others have not responded quite so amicably. The biggest case in the United States involves a Florida man — because of course it did — shooting at two teens who were playing Pokémon Go near his home because he thought they were planning to rob him. (The teens were unharmed in the mix-up.)
Of the two responses, I prefer the humorous note. I’ve considered something similar because I live roughly 20 feet away from one of the only PokéStops in a rural town. People like to visit it late at night, and because I have a dog, I get to hear incessant barking for as long as they’re standing there getting Poké Balls. That’s OK. What’s less OK is when they then walk around the driveway, stand in the lawn, or otherwise move from public property to the land I rent.
Is it a big deal in the grand scheme of things? Not really. Should the Florida man have shot at two kids without seeing what they were doing? Absolutely not. But Pokémon Go players need to understand that trespassing didn’t become legal simply because Niantic decided to put some Pokémon on private property. Some of us aren’t looking to make friends — we’re just trying to enjoy the comfort of our own homes. Respecting that desire shouldn’t be asking too much.
I don’t speak for everyone, but I suspect a growing population would agree with this simple message: Go ahead and play Pokémon Go, but stay off my lawn.