• 9 Investigates 'Pokemon Go' bringing players near sex offenders homes

    By: Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    Take a trip through Romare Bearden Park and it is easy to catch plenty of people trying to “catch ‘em all.”

    "It's bringing people together. It's helping me lose weight and a lot of other people," Derek Vittoria, a "Pokemon Go" player, said. "I feel like this is the start of a great rate of obesity going down in America because kids are going outside and moving."

    Derek Vittoria is as close to a Pokemon trainer as you can get. He's caught dozens of Pokemon across Charlotte.

    Since the game launched earlier this month, it has quickly become the must-have app for kids and adults.

    The game uses real-world locations and tracks your movement. The phone's camera makes it look like a Pokemon is appearing right in front of you.

    But some Pokemon are showing up in questionable locations.

    In west Charlotte, Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno spotted three Pokemon not too far from a home where a man convicted of sexual battery lives.

    Bruno found five Pokemon near another home in west Charlotte where a man convicted of kidnapping a minor lives.

    And Channel 9 was able to catch two Pokemon in front of a motel near the airport where a man convicted of second-degree rape of a 13-year-old lives.

    Internet safety expert Ken Jefferson said there's no stopping Pokemon from appearing on the front lawn of a sex offender's home.

    "To my knowledge there are no built in safe guards whatsoever," Jefferson said. "The manufacturer is not going to go through the trouble to go through a map and look where the sex offenders are."

    Bruno contacted the app's creator but didn't hear back. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office chose not to comment.

    A Texas Tech law professor told reporters in Silicon Valley that the game's developer could be liable if an attack happens while someone is playing the game. Some locations in the game, like gyms and Pokestops, were predetermined by the game's developer.

    "If a reasonable person would think it's dangerous, then it could be negligence," Beyer told SiliconValley.com. "I could easily make that argument for gyms and stops where there is a picked location by the company."

    Pokemon players said it is important to be alert and have knowledge of the places you're looking for Pokemon. 

    "You should play with a group of friends so you can have someone watching over you," Qua Jones, who plays the game 9 hours a day, said.

    Vittoria agrees you can't be careless when playing the game in public.

    Be aware, just play safe," he said. "Don't be dumb when playing the game.

    Local police said to use common sense. Children should play with their parents so the quest to "be the very best" is a safe journey.

    Game users can track Pokemon locations by visiting pokevision.com. North Carolina requires sex offenders to list their addresses. For a database of where they live, click here.

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