Did Pokemon Go Cause Increases in Crime in New York City?




Velarde, Elena

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Pokémon GO is an augmented reality smartphone game, where players search for fanciful animal-like creatures (“Pokémon”) to “catch” by walking around the real world. It uses the camera and global positioning system (GPS) of players’ devices to achieve this immersive effect. Anecdotal evidence suggests the 2016 debut of Pokémon GO caused sudden widespread changes in the routine activities of both children and adults, leading players to unfamiliar areas and strange times. Some news articles speculated the game could be dangerous, distracting players and making them targets for criminal victimization. However, to date, no research has systematically examined whether Pokémon GO caused a spike in street crime. Using data from the New York City Police Department from 2010 to 2019 and an interrupted time series design, the current study examines whether Pokémon GO caused increases in crime in New York City in the weeks immediately after its 2016 release. Specifically, we examined the rates of assault, criminal mischief, and petit larceny to determine if there was a statistically significant shock during this time period. The main findings reveal that the data do not suggest that Pokémon GO increased crime in New York City. The implications of this study are important as there continues to be new technology and applications, which may impact crime rates across the world.



Pokémon Go, crime rates, New York City, routine activities theory, crime pattern theory, motivated offenders, suitable targets, capable guardians, augmented reality


Velarde, E. (2023). Did Pokémon Go Cause Increases in Crime in New York City? Honors College, Texas State University.


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