By Jack Holmes
Since the release of Pokémon GO two days ago, you’ve probably seen dozens of articles scrolling through news feeds on the dangers of playing the game. If you’ve been disregarding the warnings, however, as fictional click bait, you might want to think again.
Yesterday evening, three Manchester Metropolitan University students were mugged in Hulme Park whilst playing the popular mobile app. The assailant demanded all three of their phones, and one wallet, at knife point, leaving the three shaken, but safe.
If you’re familiar with Hulme Park, you’ll know it’s only ten minutes away from Manchester Met’s All Saints campus, and just across the road from the Birley Campus Halls of Residence. Thus, it is Manchester Met students who will be at the most risk of theft in the coming weeks while the game continues to dominate both the gaming and real worlds.
Humanity Hallows talked to one of the victims, who wanted to warn fellow players in the area and in Manchester as a whole:
“Please, guys, just be careful, you’re probably not gonna be eaten by a giant Gyarados but this can be serious. We were in a group of three in the park while it was still daylight when it happened so please don’t think these things will make it safe.”
Police have been posting warnings about the potential dangers of the app since the title’s release. However, the game requires players to walk while looking at their phone and therefore creates perfect opportunities for theft.
Greater Manchester Police have also released a full article of the risks linked to Pokémon GO, which includes in-depth safety tips that you can read here.
Having reported the crime to the police, the three victims passed on some useful information to any other Pokémon GO players that might be worried following the news:
“Please genuinely be aware of your surroundings and stay safe. If you’re going hunting in a park, try to stay in the middle where there are lots of people and don’t linger anywhere for too long with your phones out, particularly if you’re in shaded areas or near gates.”
One of the victims was keen to point out, “Just because it happened to me doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone” but was quick to remind other Pokémon GO players that, “We were relatively lucky that nobody was hurt and we didn’t have more money on us but someone else may not be as lucky.”
Police have requested that anybody who has any information that might assist with this crime or similar crimes in the area contact them on the non-emergency number 101. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. However, the police are keen to remind the public that if anyone is in immediate danger they should contact 999 as usual.
Stay safe Pokefans.