Police Using ‘Pokémon GO’ To Lure Criminals To Their Stations

While there have been a lot of folks who are doubtful about the game Pokémon GO and even more who make fun of players by way of memes on Facebook, that doesn’t change the fact that many people are obsessed with the game. Those who have tried to find evasive Pokémon have gone to great lengths to do so, including climbing tall trees and walking miles and miles.

In some cases, this is a good thing, and Pokémon GO has been considered a way for people to improve fitness by some fitness experts. There are features of the game that give you a reward for the number of kilometers walked, and some psychologists say that the active nature of the game, which requires people to get up and go outside, may actually help combat symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Now, there’s a new benefit to the game, one that many naysayers may not have considered — some of those people hunting Pokémon are actively being hunted themselves.

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Police in several jurisdictions have issued tongue-in-cheek invitations to selected individuals, usually their jurisdiction’s eight most wanted criminals, to search for the very rare Pokémon named Ditto in their police station. They have stated that Ditto has been located in their building and then offer to let certain individuals search for Ditto there, according to the Guardian. The Smithfield Virginia Police Department put a picture of Ditto on their Facebook page and then wrote an invitation to come find the elusive Pokémon.

“The rarest Pokemon of all has been spotted in the Smithfield Police Department processing room: Ditto!

Since it so rare we can only allow a limited number of people in the building to capture it. We put the mainframe computer in the basement to work and came up with a list of random citizens eligible for this rare opportunity. If your name is on the list below, you are one of the lucky folks invited to come to the Police Department for the capture!

Marc Eley Burton
Terry Carsolerick Cobb
Anrea Irma Goins
Neshaeka Divonne Harkless
Karolyn Yvonne Heath
Henry Lanauze
Cydny Charleston Lewis
Wilbur Pair

This list will be updated periodically, as long as Ditto hangs around!”

Pokemon Go

Police say they don’t think any of the invited fugitives will be naïve enough to show up, but they are capitalizing on the popularity of Pokémon GO to raise public awareness about wanted individuals, likening them to evasive Pokémon. Although lighthearted, it may actually assist with awareness of those who are evading police.

The theory is not entirely wrong, as Pokémon GO already has helped in the capture of at least one criminal who was on the run. A 26-year-old Milford, Michigan, man bicycled to a police station in his pajamas because the police station is a gym — a place where individuals can battle Pokémon and win special awards. The individual was arrested because police officers recognized him from previous interactions. The man stated he had forgotten that there was a warrant for his arrest and was simply playing the Pokémon game.

Police say they don’t expect many to forget they have a warrant for their arrest and head to the police station, but the Facebook posts from police departments about a game that many relate to are generating many positive comments from the public they serve. In a political culture that has been strained between police and the public, Facebook users are delighting in the human aspect of police and the commonalities that are shared between police and individuals.

Facebook user Patricia Smith shared her thoughts on Smithfield Police Department’s Facebook page.

“This just made my day. I can’t stop laughing. Crazy thing is….I would really like to know how many show up!!!!!!”

[Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images]