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Bay Area Police Issue Safety Warnings For Pokémon Go Players

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Police departments in the Bay Area have issued safety tips for players of the suddenly popular Pokémon Go smartphone game, after some players reportedly became injured or victims of crime.

The augmented reality game became a national phenomenon after it was released in the U.S. on Wednesday. Using the smartphone camera and GPS, players collect Pokémon or "pocket monsters" in real world locations.

While the game has led people across the country to look for Pokémon at local landmarks known as "Pokestops," players glued to their smartphone screens have reportedly became injured in their quest, according to The Associated Press.

Crime has also become a concern, after police in Missouri said four teens over the weekend robbed Pokémon Go players after setting up a "beacon" at a location to draw in players.

Captain Raj Vaswani of the San Francisco Police Department issued a warning Monday, urging players to realize they are "still in the real world." Vaswani also issued these tips.

  • Know your surroundings and pay attention to where you are going/who is around you. Slow car paralleling a person on foot, might be a sign it's a get-away car. If you get the sense you are being followed or set-up for a robbery, head to a lighted area with people around.
  • Watch where you are going, please don't look down at your phone while crossing streets, getting off buses, or even while walking. Obey traffic laws, please.
  • Do not run into trees, meters, and things that are attached to the sidewalk; they hurt.
  • Do not drive or ride your bike / skateboard / hipster techie device while interacting with the app.
  • Know where your kids are going when playing with the app, set limits on where they can go, so they don't keep going trying to get that Pokémon.
  • Tell your kids about stranger-danger because the app may bring strangers together in real life at 'pokestops'.
  • Do not go onto private property, dark alleys, or areas that you usually would not go if you weren't playing the game.

Police in Concord also issued their own warning on their Facebook page, telling users to always "be aware of their surroundings."

"We support cautious and responsible play and people having fun," the department said.

The department also said they are aware their headquarters is a Pokestop in the game.

Pokémon Go was developed by San Francisco-based Niantic, which previously created "Ingress," another augmented reality game.

Tim Fang is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco and a native of the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @fangtj.

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