Add the Radford Army Ammunition Plant to the list of agencies that haven’t caught “catch ’em all” fever.
On Tuesday, plant commander Lt. Col. Alicia Masson emailed media outlets to ask for help spreading word that the high-security facility, which makes propellant used in U.S. military munitions, is off-limits to Pokemon Go players.
For those who haven’t encountered it yet, Pokemon Go is the new, wildly popular smartphone game that revives the 1990s franchise as an augmented reality app.
As if millennials needed another reason to stare at their smartphones, here comes the Pokemo…
Released in the United States on Thursday, Pokemon Go had been downloaded 7.5 million times by Monday, according to estimates carried in Forbes.
Players use their phones’ GPS, mapping and camera capabilities to track down and capture Pokemon , or “pocket monsters.” When closing in on a Pokemon, players hold up their phone’s camera and the game superimposes the creature amid players’ real-life surroundings.
The problem at the Radford arsenal is that players are trying to chase Pokemon onto closely guarded plant property, Masson wrote in an email.
She said there have been reports of Charizard — a powerful Pokemon — in the arsenal’s rocket and water tower.
Pokemon hunters began showing up Sunday, Masson wrote. Twenty-three Pokemon players had been turned away from the gate by Tuesday evening, she wrote.
Masson worried that the number would grow as nearby Radford University and Virginia Tech hold orientations and summer sessions.
“They are challenging whether or not the rocket is considered federal property,” Masson wrote, referring to an old military rocket that for years sat near the plant’s main entrance in Montgomery County.
The rocket is indeed on U.S. Army property and in a no-go zone for gamers, Masson wrote.
“This is a secure facility. Trespassers will be prosecuted. We are trying to keep all persons safe,” Masson wrote.
The ammunition plant’s appeal echoed reports across the country.
In Virginia, the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office attributed a rise in trespassing and suspicious events to people searching for Pokemon. The Duvall, Wash., police department’s request that players avoid “popping out of bushes” behind the police station after dark was widely carried in stories about the game.
Amused comments followed the ammunition plant Facebook posting of its request that gamers stay away.
Some commenters accused plant workers of wanting to keep the Pokemon roaming the facility for themselves. Others just poked fun at the standoff.
“Is this real life??? Like really?” Facebook poster Michael Flora wrote.