Study: Pokémon Go lures players to sex offenders

Posted at 11:26 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-31 06:07:14-04

A new report from downstate New York found that in some cases, Pokémon Go players are being led to locations in front of, or near the homes of, sex offenders.

While the numbers don't reflect Western New York statistics, this is still worrying local parents.

"It freaks me out because our kids, you see them walking around with their heads down, and they don't know where they're going... they're just following Pokémon," said Hector Pagan, father of three avid Pokémon Go players.

New York State Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino are calling for new legislation to keep kids safe from augmented reality games, including Pokémon Go.

"With the lures, we have not found that anyone did that with the intention of luring the child, but it's something that could happen," said Senator Klein.

The investigation found that 73 of the 100 sex offenders addresses were within a half block of a Pokémon Go related item. Pagan can't help but think his three children could be playing this game near a sex offenders home.

"I would be very concerned if my child was playing this game and happens to go by a predator's house... it freaks me out," said Pagan.

His kids are just three of the 30 million people who have downloaded the app. The investigation shows that Pokéstops or gyms were located within a half-block of convicted pedophiles' residences 59 percent of the time.

While the study focuses on a different city, Pagan can't help but think this game could lead anyone somewhere dangerous, here at home.

"I had a coworker... he told me kids were coming up almost to his driveway," said Pagan. "He didn't know what they were doing but they were searching for Pokémon. They don't know if somebody like that could be a predator."

He is not the only one who never thought about this situation.

"It's kind of sketchy if a Pokéstop is near a sex offender's house," said Dalton Robinson, a teenager who loves playing Pokémon Go. "They can use lures to draw people in so that's a little scary. I never really thought about it until you guys asked it."

This Manhattan-based report seems to be motivating local players to take precautions, too.

"I'm glad I mostly come here where it's in public areas," said Robinson. "I'm never alone. I'm usually with a bunch of friends and I don't stay out late at night because you never know what could happen."

After all, it's the thought of what could happen that worries parents.

"I would want the community to know where these Pokémon are guiding our kids to," said Pagan. "It really freaks me out. I'm very concerned as a parent."

For now, this dad can only count no his children's common sense, and street sense, as they try to "catch 'em all."

"Playing a game, I think everybody is entitled to play a game," said Pagan. "But when it comes to that, I want legislation on it."

The bill would ban sex offenders from playing augmented reality games like Pokémon Go, and prohibit any game features from appearing within 100 feet of a sex offender's home. Right now, there is no timetable for this bill.

To read more about this investigation, click here.