HOLLYWOOD, Md.—The world-wide lauch of a new smart phone application, Pokémon Go, in which players use global positioning data to track down and find animated figures on their devices is causing a stir here as well.
The popularity of the game has caught on rapidly but is also causing problems because the application is taking people, either on foot or by vehicle, into places where they might not be wanted or even allowed.
The new app was a big point of discussion at the Leonardtown Town Council meeting Monday, July 11, when council members reported that they had seen people all over town using data on their phones to hunt down the animated Pokémon figures on their screens, even at night.
Streets on the town square Monday afternoon had visitors with necks craned down to their phones tracking down the elusive Pokémon as well.
Council member Jay Mattingly said the app, while fun, was already starting to cause problems.
"It's increasing suspicious activity," Mattingly said. There's people out in the middle of the night looking for these Pokémon."
That means in some cases these people are wandering onto or near private property in search of the Pokémon.
Council member Hayden Hammett said he saw one man down at Leonardtown Wharf at night wearing head-mounted lights just to search for one of the Pokémon.
"It's definitely getting people out," Hammett said.
Reports from around the globe show that game players are having great fun with the app, but there has been a darker side to its release.
In one case it led a player to a spot where they found a dead body, while in another case a group of alleged armed robbers had used the app to predict where and when players might arrive at secluded spots to be taken for their possessions.
In some cases it has resulted in many blocked private driveways as Pokémon hunters stop off in their cars to make their search.
Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron said the app's popularity had yet to result in any crime's committed in the county as of a telephone interview Wednesday.
"It's caused some problems, namely trespassing for lack of a better term, people wandering onto private property," Cameron told The County Times. "People are so focused on technology they don't know what's going on around them."
Cameron said one of his deputies had already dealt with a group of people engrossed in the game so much they had wandered into traffic.
Aside from the game's dangers as a possible criminal lure it now has access to all the player's information on that cell phone.
"It's now a cache potential cache of information for hackers," Cameron said. "I'm hoping the fad levels off soon."
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