It’s been a little while since we last checked in with the Pokémon Go craze. What have those players been up to?
New Jersey Player Finds $2,000 Cash At PokéStop
An unnamed player in Hackettstown checked out a local PokéStop and was surprised to find a lot more than elusive Pokémon. He discovered $2,000 in cash. Being an honest soul, he walked over to a nearby business and informed them of his find, telling employees there that he’d turn it over to the police. The timing was just about perfect, as the person who’d lost said $2,000 had just reported it missing. When the police came to the nearby business to investigate, they told authorities that the money had just been found. They checked the surveillance video and quickly managed to locate the player who gave police the cash then and there. [WNBC]
Pokemon players rescue more injured wildlife nationwide
Reports are coming in from across the country of players finding and rescuing injured wildlife creatures (real ones!) as they go on their hunts for virtual creatures.
According to Cornell Animal Hospital, Pokémon Go players in the area have brought in a rabbit, an opossum, a screech owl, and even an adorable baby squirrel. In Rochester, New York, eight ducklings that had gotten themselves stuck in a storm drain were rescued by a player who got help opening the grate to free them.
Another fine example: As Olivia Case pulled into the parking lot of her local laundromat to take her three-year-old daughter hunting for the rare Dratin, she noticed a small creature wriggling around in front of the building. When she inspected further, she realized that it was a baby bat. After a quick Google search for advice, Case moved the bat from the bright light in front of the laundromat to a darker space in hopes that it would be able to collect itself and find its way home. Forty-five minutes later, the little guy was still there. Olivia transported the bat to a nearby animal hospital. Rehab workers have named the winged survivor “Zubat.” “If I wasn’t playing, then I would have never found him,” says Case. “So I’m really happy that I’m so addicted to this game.”
Just remember, while you’re out there catching those elusive virtual critters, you might stumble upon a real critter who needs your help. Be careful, but don’t be afraid. Take appropriate precautions and call in help when you need it, and you just might become a real-world master. [Atlas Obscura]
Becoming a PokéStop saves a Washington ice cream store
Gary Dear could not be more grateful for Pokémon Go. Business at Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream, the Anacortes, Washington, sweet shop Dear owns, had been lagging earlier this year, and health problems even forced him to close for a while. Two weeks after returning to work, Pokémon Go hit the world. Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream boasts several PokéStops which, combined with the summer sun, created a boom in the shop’s business.
Dear told local news outlets that his sales have generally doubled since the game was released, and on some nights they’ve even tripled. The community is also coming to love the ice cream store, and Dear is loving the community right back. He has been able to hire employees and extend the store’s hours thanks to the crowds the game has brought to his door. [WFAA]
Alas, all is not sunshine and Poké Balls in the real world. Now that we’ve got the good news out of the way, we’ve unfortunately got to look at the bad news, too.
Two suspects are arrested after Texas players find a murder victim in a cemetery
Luis Alberto DeLeon and Sunee Marie Schriewer (below) have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Christopher Robert Lowe, 34, of Comal County. Two Pokémon Go players found Lowe’s remains while roaming a local cemetery looking for creatures in late August. An autopsy revealed that Lowe had died from multiple stab wounds and blunt-force trauma. Both remain in the Comal County Jail on over $250,000 bond each. No word on the identities of the two players. [San Antonio Express-News]
In the wee hours of the morning of September 20, Pokémon Go player Richard Yaneza was checking on an egg in New York City’s Central Park when a mugger came up and either punched him in the back of the head or put him into a chokehold and then stole three phones from him. He captured the incident with his phone via live streaming. Yaneza falls to the ground while the assailant can be seen pulling the equipment off of his person. The video continues for several more minutes as the thief runs off with the still-streaming phone.
Unfortunately, the live stream ends after the thief finds the factory reset function on two of the phones and triggers it, presumably to make the phones available to immediately sell on the streets. An unidentified person tried to chase the thief, but was unable to catch him. Thanks to the game’s location feature, we know that the mugging took place right near the Sweeny Memorial Bench in the park. [New York Daily News]
A corpse discovered by a Pokémon player on the Danish island of Funen outside of the town of Odense has been identified as 41-year-old Simon Bolt Brinkmann. Brinkmann reportedly vanished under suspicious circumstances back in May. Brinkmann had been convicted of attempted murder. By the time his body was found, it was only identifiable by his teeth. [The Local]
Medical study raises loud warning about dangers of drivers and pedestrians playing the game
We know the situation with Pokémon Go players hunting when they shouldn’t be has gotten bad when the medical establishment has to warn about the dangers of hunting and driving … or even hunting and walking.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at social media and news reports for a ten-day period in July 2016. They were specifically looking for any mention of distracted driving that was connected to the driver playing Pokémon Go, and examined reports of approximately 14 auto accidents that could be directly blamed on the driver playing the game.
Researchers found that of around 114,000 tweets found to indicate someone (driver, passenger, or even pedestrian) on the road was being distracted by the game, 18 percent of those tweets revealed that a motorist was playing the game while driving at the same time. Others referred to pedestrians getting hit by cars as they were trying to catch Pokémon.
One accident report involves a car in New York that was nearly totaled when the driver ran into a tree and broke an ankle while playing the game.
Another driver in Washington state hit a stopped car containing a mother and son. Thankfully, no one was injured. Also in Washington, the number of young drivers who were distracted and ended up involved in deadly crashes rose from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2015, and that was before the game was even released.
Be safe out there, players. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
Main photo: Screenshot from game [Catherine Townsend]