Instant popularity of Pokemon Go app brings warnings from Boca Raton police

Police chief urging players to be aware
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-11 18:28:56-04

Tahoe Albergo is hooked.  The college student downloaded Pokemon Go last week. Now with every step he’s focused on his phone.

“Oh there you go,” he screamed with joy as a Pokemon popped up on the sidewalk outside of Souvlaki Fresh in Mizner Plaza.

To play the game, Albergo physically has to travel from place to place using his phone’s camera and GPS to navigate an imaginary world.

“All of sudden more people are coming, you see cars driving up, 20-30 people showed up,” he described using a lure to attract Pokemon in the game and players in real life.

“This app gets people off the couch, which we think is a good thing, but we want folks to be aware while they’re having a good time,” said Boca Raton police Chief Dan Alexander.

He wrote a blog warning players about the dangers of the game. From playing while driving, to not paying attention where you’re walking. In one case, police suspect two Missouri men staked out a meeting place and robbed a player who showed up.

“Be careful where you’re going. Be careful not to good lured into a situation or circumstance that may be dangerous by virtue of chasing down a Pokemon,” Alexander said.

Albergo agreed a little common sense goes a long way.

“It’s meant to immerse you in your surroundings, you want to go explore. But be aware, be cautious, be courteous,” he added.

When Jessica Ortega played Pokemon Go, she said it takes her to a different world.

“For a lot of people who grew up watching the show, it's kind of a dream come true,” she said.

Ortega works at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in suburban Delray Beach. Friday night she said she heard visitors talking all about the Pokemon they found on the grounds. So she put up a Facebook post about it on the museum’s official page.

“It took off like wildfire and we're still getting comments on it,” Ortega said.

Facebook users shared the post more than 1,200 times.

When attendance at the museum jumped 25% Sunday, she figured Pokemon Go had a lot to do with it.

“Once they're here, we'll hook them with the beauty of the gardens,” Ortega explained the long-term benefits.

Other companies, like Rhino Doughnuts in Boca Raton, also used the game to their advantage. It posted a picture of a Pokemon in the store this weekend, encouraging people to buy a doughnut and a catch a Pokemon.

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