Crime - Sacto 911

‘Pokémon Go’ players robbed at gunpoint in Elk Grove park

Two “Pokémon Go” players were robbed at gunpoint in an Elk Grove park as they sat in a vehicle playing the virtual reality game on their cellphones.

The two men in their 20s were in a parked vehicle at Karamanos Park, 8671 Magnolia Hill Way, at about 1:15 a.m. Thursday when they were approached by two men. One of them was armed with a gun and he demanded their property.

Elk Grove police have issued a warning echoed by other law enforcement agencies around the country where “Pokémon Go” players have been robbed.

“If you normally would not be out at a location at wee hours of the morning, remember to be aware of your surroundings,” said Officer Christopher Trim, department spokesman. “Don’t let the game lead you to be in a position where you are not paying attention.”

The fearful players turned over the personal property, including their cellphones that they were using to play “Pokémon Go.”

Since being launched July 6, the game has resulted in some unfortunate results for players who typically hold their cellphones in front of themselves, sometimes oblivious to anything but the virtual reality world.

Players are intent on catching virtual monsters and using them to fight each others. The Pokémon creatures are spread throughout the country in parks, at public buildings, by lakes and other spots.

Sometimes the inattention can have unfortunate results: A North Texas Pokémon player was bitten by a venomous snake when he wasn’t looking where he was going.

A man in Baltimore drove into a police car when he was playing the game, and robberies of “Pokémon Go” players have occurred in New Hampshire, Missouri and Florida.

A woman got stuck in a New Jersey cemetery tree that she climbed to play the game. She called firefighters for a ladder.

One of the robbers in the Elk Grove incident was described as a Latino man, 6 feet tall, about 140 pounds. He was wearing a gray or tan jacket and jeans. The other robber was described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall and about 170 pounds. He was wearing a red shirt and black shorts.

Elk Grove police have provided safety tips on the department’s Facebook page:

▪ Know your surroundings, pay attention to where you are going and who is around you.

▪ Obey all traffic laws. Don’t look down at your phone while crossing streets or getting off buses.

▪ Do not drive, ride a bike, skateboard or ride a scooter while playing.

▪ Do not go onto private property or down dark alleys.

“We want people to enjoy playing the game,” Trim said. “What better way to enjoy something as a family? Have fun with it. But young adults and teens who go out at night and play the game should not be so enamored with virtual reality that they lose touch with the real world.”

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews