Pokémon Go helping some, creating safety concerns for others

The Pokémon Go app is helping some Austin area organizations, but it's also creating problems for police.

Officers have responded to several situations where the game was involved in some way and now police are warning people to watch out for their safety.

Tuesday, a man was robbed at gunpoint in South Austin while he was playing Pokémon Go at a bus stop.

“Anytime that your fixated on something else, like a game that's really involved like this, you can become an easy target for criminals,” said officer Destiny Winston with the Austin Police Department. 

Many Pokémon trainers who don't fall victim to a criminal, are still colliding with some very real consequences.

“Watch where you're going. Don't become so fixated into your phone that you're not paying attention when you cross the street, when you're getting buses, or basically when you're walking in public in general. Be mindful. Don’t run into trees, parking meters or anything attached to the sidewalks that could cause you injury,” Winston said.

Police said drivers need to keep their eyes up and their phones down.

Don't trespass onto private property and don't sneak around police departments or other buildings where public servants work. If you do, police warn, you could catch a lot more than a Pokémon.

“That kind of activity will bring unwanted attention towards you and it could result in a criminal trespassing notice from police or an altercation between the homeowner or business owner,” said Winston.

While police are trying to curb any gaming that could lead to dangerous situations, other organizations are using Pokémon Go as a way to attract visitors.

“A few people were standing out in our parking lot just milling around and I said, "Catch ‘em all!" And they all went, “Catch ‘em all!” It was really cute. So they were all standing outside in our parking lot, on our front lawn, but we want to draw them in. We want them to come in and see the animals,” said Austin Animal Center marketing director Kasey Spain.

The Austin Animal Center is hoping Pokémon trainers visit their campus that is chock full of Pokémon, Pokéstops and even a Pokémon gym, but staff said they also want gamers to help out the animals while they're there.

“If you are on our campus and you happen to be playing, grab a dog and take them on a walk with you around our campus,” Spain said.
That way while gamers are trying to find Pikachu, they might find a new best friend as well.     

The Austin animal center is planning to use a lure on campus in the next few days and staff is also going to throw a Poképarty. Those who take a picture with a dog and a Pokémon will have adoption fees waived. That's planned for later this week, either Friday or Saturday.

Also, Round Rock Express is planning a Pokémon Go event for Sunday. It's only open to those who purchase a Pokémon ticket and will last from 5-6 p.m.