Thefts hit ‘Pokemon Go’ players

UMPD responded to two phone theft reports involving players of the game.

by Ryan Faircloth

“Pokemon Go” players now have something other than rare Pokemon to watch out for.  

The University of Minnesota Police Department responded to two phone thefts from “Pokemon Go” players last week, according to a recent University public safety update.

One theft occurred at 222 Pleasant St. SE on Monday night. The second theft happened late Tuesday night at 207 Pleasant St. SE, According to police records. 

Recent University of Minnesota graduate Huimin Gu was the victim of Monday night’s theft. She was talking with her friend near Coffman Memorial Union when a man came up and plucked her phone from her hand, she said.

Gu said they tried to chase him down, but there was a car waiting for the suspect.

“He just hopped into the passenger seat, and they took off,” she said.

Before the incident happened, Gu said she was playing “Pokemon Go” with her friend, which is why she had her phone in her hand. 

She thinks the game may have contributed to the theft, since she normally wouldn’t have had her device exposed.

“If you want to play that game at all, I … think that it would [be] better to do that in a group,” she said.

The Minneapolis Police Department said last week in a Facebook post that it has received reports from a few players robbed while playing. 

In the post, the department said the app’s geolocation feature allows “robbers to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.”

In addition to the robberies, the University’s public safety update email highlighted several instances of distracted players getting into accidents or putting themselves in dangerous situations — cases like players crashing into parked police cars, jumping out of a moving vehicle to capture a Pokemon or wandering off a cliff. 

“I understand that campus is fertile ground for Pokemon hunting, and overall, that’s a good thing. … People are getting out and exploring campus, meeting new friends, and enjoying the summer weather,” said Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock in the campus-wide safety notice. “The game apparently causes some people to completely lose their good judgment and common sense … so as you battle, train and capture your Pokemon, just remember you’re still in the real world.”