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US police using Pokemon Go to catch wanted criminals

Pokemon US

Washington: The latest to join the Pokemon Go craze is the US police but for a serious purpose — to nab wanted criminals.

A post on Virginia’s Smithfield Police Department’s Facebook page says Ditto, a purple, smiling blob of a Pokemon, is hanging out in the station’s processing room.

A list of “random citizens eligible for this rare opportunity” was also posted. The catch is that the “random citizens” all have outstanding warrants.

The whimsical post has a serious purpose, said Sgt. Bryan Miller, a patrol sergeant and administrator of the Smithfield police Facebook page.

First, to engage with the community, and second, to perhaps get some leads on people wanted for charges ranging from trespassing to grand larceny.

“I had no idea it was going to be this big,” he was quoted as saying by The Virginian-Pilot.

The widely popular location-based augmented reality game Pokemon Go has been all the rage since the game’s debut a couple of weeks ago. Players use their smartphones to seek and capture cartoon creatures on streets, in parks and other places.

Miller thought about it as he was preparing to post a list of eight people who have outstanding warrants in Smithfield as of July 12. Being a small town, Miller said it is fortunately a short list.

“I have a sense of humour,” said Miller, who also plays Pokemon Go. He also saw another police department had tried something similar, Miller said.

This is not the first such instance since Pokemon Go was released.

Two weeks ago, police in New Hampshire did the same but with a Charizard — another sought after Pokemon.

While it is unlikely any of the “lucky” few named in either post will actually come forward, police have actually already caught one criminal thanks to Pokemon Go.

A man in Detroit cycled to his local police station, which was also a gym in the game, to play. Unfortunately for him, police officers recognised him as someone with an arrest warrant.

PTI

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