5 ways to stay safe while playing ‘Pokemon Go’

PHOENIX – “Pokemon Go,” just days after being released for mobile phones, has surged past Twitter in the number of users. The app uses a smartphone’s GPS to track and locate Pokemon in real world places, which can then be “captured” after players frantically search streets, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, and even churches.

But the app has also raised safety concerns. The app can distract players and make them let down their guard. “Catching em’ all” may be important but safety comes first, Phoenix police said.

Phoenix police Sgt. Vince Lewis said the department has some advice for how to have fun and stay safe:

Stay aware
Players will often accidentally wander into dangerous or prohibited areas, especially at night, in search of Pokémon.

Never hunt for Pokémon while driving
Don’t drive, ride a skateboard or bike while looking at your phone. Triston Koen, an Arizona State University student who plays Pokémon Go, “I know some people who will sit at stop signs for ten minutes, because there is a Pokémon in the area. This definitely can be a problem for other drivers.”

Don’t trespass
Pay attention to “no trespassing” signs while you are on the hunt to avoid treading on private property.

Remember stranger danger
Criminals will use the phone’s GPS on the app to follow people into secluded areas, then steal their smartphones or try to mug. Three cases have already occurred in Phoenix, Lewis said. Also, do not approach a car to talk to people you think are playing or hand over your phone to someone you just met. Lewis suggests it’s better to hunt with one or more friends.

Communicate your location
Always tell someone where you will be and how long you plan to be gone.