Pokemon Go leads to trespassing charges; Va. police offer tips to stay out of trouble

North Point Fire Station/Credit: Fairfax County Fire and Rescue

A little more than a week after the release of Pokemon Go — the smartphone app that has people chasing virtual cartoon animals all over the place — Fairfax County Police are warning how to stay out of trouble while playing.

Earlier this week, officers from the FCPD’s Franconia District arrested two men and three teens who entered Keene Mill Elementary School after hours while chasing Pokémon Go characters.

Said FCPD: “Police ask the public to please be mindful of your locations when playing the game. The game leads players to common meeting places like churches, memorials and parks.  However, not all locations and areas in the game are open to the public and not all property owners welcome Pokémon Go players on the property.  Remember, be respectful and adhere to all rules and regulations.”

There have been reports from other jurisdictions of people being lured by robbers while playing or falling into traffic while engrossed in the game.

That’s led Fairfax County to offer a list of safety tips for players:

1. Stay Alert

Be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who may be playing the game. If you are playing, you should not be on your phone while driving and use common sense when walking. Be aware of your surroundings; recently in the D.C. region, people playing the game have been robbed.

2. Supervise Kids

  • You should become familiar with the game before allowing your children to download the app. Pokémon Go is a multiplayer game where users may run into other players in the real world as they search similar areas. Take steps to keep your kids safe:
  • You and your kids should discuss who they can interact with when they go out into public to use the app.
  • Kids should never play the game alone but in a supervised group.
  • Know when and where your kids are playing.

3. Don’t Trespass

The game has a “lure module” that leads the players to various locations to win points and catch Pokémon characters. These locations are called Pokestops. Pokestops have been found at public places such as libraries and parks.

But stops are also on private property, empty lots or even cemeteries. Players may not realize they are trespassing in restricted areas and may draw attention of law enforcement and residents. Please, don’t trespass. You can catch Pokémon without going into or onto property.

4.  Do Not Enter Fire Stations

Please do not enter fire stations, including open apparatus bays. Our firefighters and medics respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day. At any given time, they may be called to an emergency and a distracted pedestrian causes a dangerous situation for responders and trucks leaving the station.

5. Play in Our Parks!

We are thrilled that so many folks are coming to county parks to play. During your visit, take time to learn a little about the natural and cultural resources surrounding you using our trails map.

  • Playing the game requires you to frequently look at your phone, so we ask you to take these precautions:
  • Be sure to keep looking around to see where you are. We don’t want you walking into a tree or a yellow jackets nest or bumping into other people.
  • Pay attention to the time; our parks close at dusk. (Staff will chase out the Pokémon then, too.)
  • Please stay on the park trails even if the Pokémon don’t.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Kathy Smith (Sully) is hosting an all-day (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) Pokequest at the Sully Government Center (4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly) on Wednesday, July 20. See below for details.


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