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Don’t let your Pokémon game lead you into danger

Sarah Boutwell plays the augmented-reality smartphone game Pokémon Go at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, Monday July 11, 2016. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP

Reports have emerged of Pokémon Go users being injured or attacked while playing the popular game.

If you’re outdoors trying to catch an elusive Pikachu, watch for oncoming vehicles, avoid lingering on people’s lawns, and don’t get behind the wheel of a car.

That’s the message police around the state are sending to users enraptured by the mega-popular Pokémon Go app, an augmented-reality game that is played on smartphones.

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In Somerville, Police Chief David Fallon issued a statement Tuesday asking residents and visitors coming into the city to catch Pokémon to remain alert, not chase the creatures while driving, and not loiter where Poké Stops and “lures” — devices that attract Pokémon and swarms of players — are located.

“We recognize that, for many, Pokémon Go is a fun, interactive game that encourages users to go outside and walk around,” Fallon said. “While doing so, we remind community members to always focus on what’s in front of them, and to never go anywhere the public isn’t normally allowed. We would hate to see someone get injured because of this game.”

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In a Facebook post, Northbridge police also urged players tracking down Pokémon to remain vigilant.

The request sounded so strange — almost like their account was hacked — that officers prefaced the social media post with a disclaimer.

“Yes, this is a real Facebook post and warning,” police said. “If you play this game we ask that you use common sense and pay attention to your surroundings. Do not Pokémon Go and drive!!!! Do not walk in the road.”

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Police added that they’ve received reports of zombie-like players fixated on their screens wandering into busy streets, perhaps in an attempt to snag a Rattata, a rat-like Pokémon — or maybe a Gastly?

Boxford police posted a tweet advising users not to trespass on property or play while driving, and Tewksbury police said the same, tweeting a picture of the sought-after Pikachu, and telling people to “be aware of your surroundings.”

Other departments have addressed resident concerns about Pokémon enthusiasts’ behavior.

In Medway, police said they had received numerous calls about suspicious persons wandering around, snapping “odd photos and videos” with their smartphones.

Pokémon Go gameplay requires users to hit the streets to find “Poké Stops” and collect virtual items, and point and aim their phones in order to catch the Pokémon creatures that appear on the screen.

“It’s been found that most of these calls involve persons playing ‘Pokémon Go’ as they are searching for characters,” Medway police said on Facebook.

Reports have trickled into the Bellingham police as well.

“The calls have already started to come in regarding suspicious activity from people acting strange and using their phones to take pictures and videos around town,” Bellingham police wrote on Facebook. “Please use common sense when playing Pokémon Go.”

Stow police responded Saturday to a report of suspicious activity near Great Road. The officer who responded said it was merely three people walking around a property trying to catch a virtual specimen.

“All is ok,” that officer wrote, according to the police blotter.

Peabody police received a report Sunday, a few days after the game came out, that there was a suspicious car near the post office on Essex Center Drive.

It turned out to be nothing more than people “driving around the parking lot catching Pokémon Go characters,” the blotter said.

Globe correspondent Dylan McGuinness and Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.
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