Cops pulled over a man driving his car suspiciously around a Miami boat ramp parking lot just after midnight Wednesday.
Turns out, Phil Blakney was playing ‘Pokémon Go’ — and the only thing he caught was a ride to jail.
The reason: Officers say they found a bag of marijuana inside Blakney’s car after they smelled a “robust odor” of weed billowing from his car window.
Blakney, 25, has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. His may be the first Miami arrest related to ‘Pokémon Go,’ the virtual game that is exploding in popularity and has young people wandering public spaces looking for the virtual cartoon monsters.
‘Pokémon Go’ is a free app that is part of the popular franchise that includes other videos games, a TV show and trading cards. The “augmented-reality” app allows users, with their camera, to “catch” over 100 virtual characters in real public spaces.
But the explosion of people wandering around in public, their eyes glued to their phones, has caused concern with authorities, who warn that gamers aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, particularly while driving. In New York, one man crashed into a tree while driving the chasing Pokémon.
The game has also caused concerns about users wandering into inappropriate or restricted spaces. Officials at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., have warned users to not play there out of respect.
According to Miami police, Blakney was driving his Dodge Charger around the parking lot of the Pelican Harbor boat ramp off the 79th Street Causeway just after midnight Wednesday.
Believing he might have been “casing the area,” an officer pulled him over. When Blakney, an employee of Whole Foods, opened his car window, a “robust odor” of marijuana emerged, according to a Miami police report.
He “stated that his reason for being in the park after hours was because he was chasing Pokmon’s (sic) on the Pokmon (sic)Go iPhone Application,” according to the report.
An officer also reported finding a Ziploc bag full of marijuana, small empty baggies to package the weed for sale, plus a small scale and a grinder. He confessed that the drugs belonged to him, police said. Blakney could not be reached Thursday and it was unclear if he had an attorney.