Officials Urge Caution as Pokémon App Sweeps Nation

Authorities nationwide are urging users to stay vigilant when playing the game.

ByBRIAN MCBRIDE
July 12, 2016, 4:44 AM

— -- After reports of Pokémon Go players falling prey to thieves, trespassing and even stumbling upon a dead body, officials are cautioning users to be aware of their surroundings before they end up becoming the next unfortunate headline.

Authorities from Washington State to New York and nation's capital have taken to social media to poke fun at the popular mobile app while urging players to stay cautious while trying to "catch 'em all."

Pokémon Go is a smartphone game -- from the popular TV and video game series -- in which the app blends the real world with a virtual world, using the smartphone's GPS to send players on a scavenger hunt to catch and collect Pokémon. The game's popularity has exploded since its release in the United States and several other countries last week.

National Mall and Memorial Parks officials in DC posted on Facebook Monday, asking players to be mindful of just where they're hunting the virtual critters.

"Yes, it might be tempting to go after that Snorlax near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the Venusaur hanging out in the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial, but remember that there are places of solemn reflection here at the National Mall where playing Pokemon just isn't appropriate," the post said.

The Facebook post added that visitors are welcome to try their luck in other places, like the Constitution Gardens, where "a visitor had a close call with a renegade Zubat."

New York's Mayor Bill De Blasio took a more lighthearted approach and used the cartoon's most famous monster to highlight the city's low crime rates:

Niantic, the company behind the app, told ABC News that they "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," the company added.

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