Police: Pokemon Go players found trespassing in parks, yards

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • Police said they've been encountering Pokemon Go players illegally frequenting public parks at night.
  • Players risk citations, criminal charges and worse if they trespass on private property, police said.

Players of Pokemon Go who trespass on private property or illegally wander into public parks after closing time could find it's game over, police said.

Police departments around York County — and across the country — are warning players not only to be alert while playing but also to avoid trespassing on private property.

West York Police posted this image on Facebook to advise people not to trespass and to be alert to their surroundings while playing Pokemon Go - or risk a ride "to the pokey."
(Photo courtesy of West York Police)

Overnight Monday into Tuesday, Northern York County Regional police officers had to deal with 20 players who were wandering around Manchester Township's Cousler Park between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. — when the park is closed, according to Lt. David Lash.

"The officers simply warned them at that point," Lash said. "But it was going on all weekend long, and we've been getting lots of reports about it."

He said his department has received about 20 reports in all from citizens complaining that Pokemon Go players are venturing into closed parks, wandering onto people's yards and decks, and trespassing on church grounds and at shopping centers.

Complaints: Other parks where players have spurred complaints include Lehr Community Park and Dover Community Park, both in Dover Township, Ketterman Park in Dover borough and Fifth Avenue Park in North York, according to Lash. He said the parks are prone to vandalism and "illicit activity" at night. He means people go there to have sex.

The Associated Press has reported that a girl was struck by a car on a busy roadway in western Pennsylvania while playing the game. Pokemon Go is an “augmented reality” game for smartphones that encourages players to wander in the physical world to find and catch new Pokemon on their screens.

West York Police Officer Scott Musselman urges a Pokemon Go player to be safe.
(Photo courtesy of West York Police)

The 25 or 30 public parks patrolled by Northern Regional Police are closed after dark, Lash said, and Northern Regional officers now will be citing players who violate those park rules.

"Generally, we've had people participating in this game in nearly every public park we patrol," he said. "It creates a burden for us at nighttime."

Risking injury: He also said players will be cited or charged with trespassing for going onto private property, adding that summary citations should be the least of players' concerns on that front.

"Nobody has quite comprehended the problem in that way," Lash said. "But they're putting themselves at risk of injury by trespassing on private property at night."

Homeowners who mistake Pokemon Go players for burglars or home-invasion robbers could shoot them, Lash said. And with actual guns, not with Pokeballs.

"Plus, (players) could potentially face loitering and prowling charges," the lieutenant said.

So far, the calls police are receiving are for reports of suspicious people who turn out to be Pokemon players, Lash said.

"I'm hoping it's a short-term fad," he said.

Woman: Daughter hit by car while playing 'Pokemon Go'

Warnings issued: Other local police departments have posted notices on their websites and Facebook pages, asking people to pay attention to their surroundings while playing the game, to respect private property and to be vigilant about being lured into dangerous situations.

Springettsbury Township Police put out this image of Pokemon's Squirtle in the driver's seat.

In the wake of the game's release, police across the country have reported receiving a flurry of calls from residents about possible burglars or prowlers, according to The Associated Press.

West York Police advised its Facebook followers not to play the game while walking near roads or driving. They also noted borough parks close at sunset, and that the borough's curfew for those under 18 is 11 p.m.

West York Police advised people to play safely and by the rules, "because you don't want to end up with a ride to the Pokey."

Springettsbury Township Police said they've come across hundreds of people playing the game but warned them to pay attention to their surroundings, avoid being lured into dangerous situations and stay out of parks after dusk.

Springettsbury Township's curfew for minors unaccompanied by adults is midnight, police said. They also noted that playing Pokemon Go while driving violates Pennsylvania's law that forbids texting while driving.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.