Skate park hold-up at Tahmoor sparks Pokémon Go warning

Enthusiasts converge outside Wollongong's Le Vendi cafe, Tuesday. Picture: Adam McLean

Enthusiasts converge outside Wollongong's Le Vendi cafe, Tuesday. Picture: Adam McLean

Police have warned the growing ranks of Pokemon Go enthusiasts to stay aware of their real-world surrounds, after two players distracted by the virtual world were held up at gunpoint.

The pair drove to a deserted skate park on Thirlmere Way at Tahmoor about 7pm Wednesday, in pursuit of Pokemon.

Police say the man and woman – both aged 29 - were absorbed in the game when a white Toyota Hilux reversed across the driveway and blocked their exit. 

Two men with their faces covered, one armed with a rifle, exited the Hilux. 

Wollongong Harbour as it appears in the game.

Wollongong Harbour as it appears in the game.

The rifleman threatened the pair, but fled in the Hilux empty-handed when told “all we’ve got is our phone, we’re just playing our game”, police say.  

Users of the Nintendo game, which is integrated with Google Maps, can place a virtual lure on a real-world location to attract more Pokémon to an area for 30 minutes.

Police say there is no information to suggest the men involved in the hold-up placed a lure. 

People playing Pokemon Go at Flagstaff Hill on Friday. Photo: Adam McLean

People playing Pokemon Go at Flagstaff Hill on Friday. Photo: Adam McLean

Detective Inspector Jane Doherty, of Camden Local Area Command. said the case served as a reminder to players to be aware of their surroundings, especially when travelling to unfamiliar locations.

“We’re encouraging people to make themselves more aware of the situation and environments they’re in when playing interactive games,” she said.

“Make sure the doors to your car are locked. Visit at a better time of day.” 

The incident comes amid skyrocketing appetite for the game. Chris Burgess, 24, is part of a large contingent of Wollongong players who are regularly converging to play outside Le Vendi cafe, drawn by a tight cluster of ‘lures’ there.

Chris Burgess believes the game appeals to 20-somethings who grew up with Pokemon. Picture: Adam McLean

Chris Burgess believes the game appeals to 20-somethings who grew up with Pokemon. Picture: Adam McLean

He  found it hard to accept the idea of players coming to harm because they were distracted by the game. 

“I think if you're that silly to run in front of a car then it's going to happen regardless of whether you're playing a game,” he said. 

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the identities of the men involved in the Tahmoor hold-up to dial triple-zero. Both are described as Caucasian in appearance, wearing dark blue jackets and dark pants. One stood about 190cm tall with a medium build. The other stood about 180cm tall, with a solid build and fair complexion. He wore a high-visibility shirt and work boots.

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