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Safety Concerns Raised Over Trendy Pokemon Go

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A blast from the past has resurfaced and is now the hottest app for both Android and iPhones.

Originating in 1996 as a card game, and then later a cartoon, Pokemon has gone high tech.

"It's like when you were a kid. You always wanted to do these things. You wanted to run around and become the best of the best and catch all the Pokemon and now you get a chance to walk around and freely do it," said Sean Neal.

The Pokemon Go game takes you to an augmented version of reality, combining real life with animation.

"Basically you go out and capture the monsters that we've been doing in our game boy games for the last twenty years," said game shop worker Jonathan Jones.

Characters from the game appear to roam around the world, waiting to be caught in virtual scavenger hunt. They've been found everywhere from inside a bottle of water to local landmarks.

"There are monuments, or you can look at where the stops are. A lot of churches will have them, post offices, any landmarks, have stops, so the foot traffic there has been increased dramatically," said fellow game store employee Walter Burdzy.

Some critics say the app can be dangerous because players can get too focused on their phones while they are tracking the virtual characters and walk into things or put themselves in dangerous situations.

"They're tripping over the sidewalk, they're on their skateboards, they're falling off. They're walking into traffic," said CNET section editor Dan Ackerman.

Annie Nguyen was so focused she didn't even notice CBS4's camera pointed at her as she walked through John Williams Park in Hollywood.

"If anything you're looking at one of the biggest nerds ever," she laughed. "I was actually waiting for this game to come out over a year ago."

Even Miramar police got into it. They tweeted out photos of a group of kids trying to catch a Pokemon near a patrol car.

But it's not all fun and games.

"With these lures people know that you're there. So that invites people to come to you – good or bad people," Darryl Boyen said.

Four teens allegedly used the game to commit multiple robberies in Missouri's St. Louis and St. Charles counties. They've been charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.

Police believe the suspects added a beacon near a Poke-stop in their location, which could lure more players nearby. The mobile game is a geo-cached mobile application.

In a separate case, a girl was led to a dead body while playing the game.

There's also the issue that you can play 24 hours a day and the addictive game has people leaving their homes in the middle of the night, even in South Florida.

"Last night there was over 50 people there, over 50 people there at 3 a.m.," Nguyen said.

A new tech addiction, but it's one that at least gets you moving.

"If you're not active or anything, it gets you out. Like I was an hour in this park the other day just catching Pokemon, and I wouldn't have done that otherwise," Boyen said

Pokemon Go player Kirk Harris sees it the same way.

"It gets you up, it forces you to go out because you have to go look for the Pokemon in certain places so you go to parks and you get exercise."

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