Recently, you might have noticed even more people than usual wandering around outside with their eyes glued to their smartphones. Chances are they’re hooked on the new mobile game “Pokemon Go.” And you might be frustrated that some of these players are wandering onto your property.
Trespassing is one of several issues surrounding this new mobile craze. The game’s terms of service mention trespassing laws, but that isn’t stopping players from wandering onto or congregating around people’s homes in search of an addition to their Pokemon collection.
“Pokemon Go” uses GPS and your phone’s camera to help you pursue Pokemon characters in real-life settings. The game gives you free range in terms of capturing Pokemon — they can be on the sidewalk during your commute to work, or hanging out by the pool in your backyard. Two hot spots, based on public locales like parks, are featured: Pokestops, where you get in-game supplies, and Gyms, where Pokemon battle each other.
Millions of people have downloaded the game since its release in early July. But not everyone is on board.
To the chagrin of many, cemeteries and museums have turned into “Pokemon Go” hot spots. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., asked Niantic — the company responsible for “Pokemon Go” — to be removed from the game. According to a spokesperson from the museum, Niantic recently complied.
Some real estate agents, however, are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to attract homebuyers. If you’re selling your house, having a Pokestop nearby might work out in your favor.
But if you’re not interested in making a sale at the moment, what can you do to keep players from wandering onto your lawn? Here are some of your options.
1. Call law enforcement
If you spot a stranger on your property and you feel like there’s a threat to your safety, don’t hesitate to call the police.
“We definitely want people to say something so we can address any issues before they progress,” says Joshua Hodge, an officer with the San Diego Police Department. “We want people to be able to enjoy the game, but we want them to do it responsibly.”
2. File a complaint with the company
You can go directly to the source and fill out a form on the “Pokemon Go” website. The form allows you to request that your home be removed from the game.
You can also report an issue with a Pokestop or Gym directly through the app under Settings.
Because of the terms of service stated on its website, Niantic is essentially not responsible for players’ actions. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be responsive to requests.
3. Get creative
If your home isn’t removed from the game and calling the cops doesn’t deter players, it may be time to get creative.
NerdWallet spoke with a real estate attorney who said that posting a simple “No Trespassing” sign in the yard is the most practical solution. He said that while trespassing laws vary by state, the “I didn’t know I was trespassing” excuse usually doesn’t work, especially with proper signage in place.
You could also spend some money on installing motion-sensor sprinklers. Your grass will stay green, and intruders — along with their smartphones — will get a quick shower.
Or, if you can’t beat them, join them. Once you’re out there on your lawn looking for your own Pokemon, it’ll be easier to shoo away any unwanted visitors.
Michael Burge is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].