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Make a Law to Protect Pokemon GO Players from Sex Offenders, Pols Say

By Trevor Kapp | July 29, 2016 12:07pm
 A pair of state senators are expected to call for new legislation to protect Pokemon GO users from sex offenders.
A pair of state senators are expected to call for new legislation to protect Pokemon GO users from sex offenders.
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Getty Images/ Drew Angerer

MIDTOWN — A pair of state senators called for legislation Friday afternoon aimed at protecting kids caught up in the Pokemon GO craze, after an investigation found characters from the game were popping up near sex offenders’ homes.

The report, released by State Sens. Jeff Klein and Diane Savino, says that investigators playing the game caught 57 characters directly in front of residences of sex offenders currently on probation or parole for crimes involving the sexual abuse of children.

"This is something that we need to be very careful of," Klein said. "While our young people are hunting Pokemons in our streets and battling them in virtual gyms... there's also potential dangers."

The study also located 59 total Pokestops or PokeGyms throughout the city within a half-block radius of the 100 sex offenders' residences visited during the investigation.

Among the locations are Brooklyn's 77 Eastern Parkway, Manhattan's 517 W. 161st St. and 460 Brille Ave. in The Bronx.

"We know children are so trusting and so innocent," Savino said. "Unfortunately, it's also putting them at risk of some of the very dangerous predators that we try so hard to separate from society."

It's currently illegal for sex offenders to use social media sites, but Pokemon GO doesn't fall under that classification, so sex offenders are free to roam the city playing the game.

"We're giving them a virtual roadmap to hunt down their prey," said Klein, who called for a change in the loophole.

Savino insisted Pokemon eliminate its current locations near sex-offender residences and said that the game manufacturer needs to more closely monitor its site choices going forward.

James Jackson, a house manager at Horizon Hope, an East Flatbush shelter that counts about a dozen sex offenders as residents, insisted the onus is the game manufacturer and not his residents.

"These people did their time," said Jackson, 57. "They need a place to live also. If one of Pokemon GO's locations is around sex offenders, they should've known that."

Pokemon GO did not return a request for comment.