South Jersey teen attacked while playing Pokemon Go, police say
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - Just before midnight on Thursday, Michael Marotta, 17, of Washington Township, Gloucester County, was heading to a friend's house playing the popular Pokemon Go app on his phone when he was attacked by two men, Philly.com reported.
Mark Miller, 18, of Washington Township was arrested in connection with the attack and charged with assault and robbery, according to Philly.com. He is being held in Salem County jail on $10,000 bail, Capt. Steve Rolando told the website Saturday.
Police told Philly.com that the teen had just left his home and had been looking at his mobile phone while walking down the street when the suspects approached him. As he continued to walk, Marotta was punched, knocked to the ground and kicked in the head and other parts of his body, the article states. The attackers then took the teen's cell phone and fled, police said.
Police are still searching for a second suspect, who they believe may live in Philadelphia, the article states.
As the Pokemon Go game's popularity increases, police throughout New Jersey have responded to calls related to the game, from trespassing complaints to people being robbed while staring at their phones.
Police arrested a 19-year-old man Wednesday who allegedly robbed a teen as he was walking down an Englewood street playing Pokemon Go. According to Englewood police, Carlos Joya of Fort Lee approached the 16-year-old Leonia boy and demanded that he empty his pockets. He was spotted by police as he attempted to grab the teen. Joya was charged second-degree robbery and third-degree resisting arrest and is being held in Bergen County Jail on $50,000 bail, police said.
On Wednesday, Washington Township Police posted a notice on Facebook warning residents that the township "is not immune" to such incidents.
"Much like other communities across the country, our police department is experiencing a wide range of calls in reference to people playing the Pokemon Go game," police said.
According to the notice, police have had calls for kids walking in the grass median of the Black Horse Pike as well as people not wanting to leave Washington Lake Park at closing time. There has also been a sudden increased interest in historic locations in the community, police said.
In addition, authorities say there are also "plenty of people walking and standing throughout the township, and throughout the night, holding their phones."
"While the game can be fun to play, players are reminded to keep their own personal safety in mind and to respect others property," police said. "You cannot use the Pokemon Go defense if you break the law."
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.
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