- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2016

University of Maryland students who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings on campus are paying the price: Three were robbed last week while they were playing the Pokemon Go app on their cellphones.

“You always see people looking at their phones, not paying attention,” said Hugh Monahan, a recent University of Maryland graduate. “If you’re not paying attention, you’re going to be a prime target.”

According to police at the College Park campus, a total of four people were robbed of their cellphones in three separate incidents on the night of July 12. Three of the victims were playing Pokemon Go just before being robbed. The fourth was not playing the game but had his or her phone out before it was taken, police said.

The robberies occurred within a little over a hour. The first occurred at 9:08 p.m. at Tydings Hall, where the robber implied he had a weapon. The second occurred at 10:12pm near Queen Anne’s Hall, and the third occurred minutes later at the same location, campus police said.

Police said a handgun was seen in the Queen Anne’s Hall robberies. None of the victims were injured.

University of Maryland Police officers searched the campus for the robber, but were unable to find him.

“We have no reason to believe that there is more than one suspect involved in these cases,” campus police said in a statement.

Angela Martinez, a freshman, was inside her residence hall when the robberies occurred.

“I got really scared because it was right outside where I was [in Anne Arundel Hall],” said Ms. Martinez, a letters and sciences major. “I thought UMD was kind of a safe school, so this surprised me.

According to University of Maryland Police Department’s uniform crime report, overall crime decreased slightly from Jan. 1, 2006 to May 31, 2016. In the same period, larceny-theft consistently ranked as the top on-campus crime, with burglary and motor vehicle theft ranking second and third, respectively.

Between Jan. 1 and April 30 of this year, 117 offenses of larceny-theft occurred at College Park. The University of Maryland’s crime figures are lower than those of other metropolitan schools with similarly sized student populations.

In 2014, the University of California at Berkeley reported a total of 1,062 violent and property crimes, and the University of California at Davis reported a total of 544 similar crimes. During that same year, the University of Maryland at College Park reported a total of 463 violent and property crimes.

For fall 2014, Berkeley’s total student enrollment was 37,581, UC Davis’ was 35,415, and UMD’s was 37,610.

Last week’s College Park robberies are just some of the latest crimes related to the Pokemon Go game, which has taken the mobile gaming world by storm since being released earlier this month. On July 7, several people playing the game were robbed in Parkville, Maryland. On July 10, police in O’Fallon, Missouri, said that four teens had been arrested for luring and robbing Pokemon players.

• Emily Kim can be reached at ekim@washingtontimes.com.

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