Pokemon GO playing leads sex offender to probation violation charge, trespassing calls in Wrightsville Beach

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There’s no indication of whether a Wilmington registered sex offender engaged in a late-night game of Pokemon GO in Wrightsville Beach caught the creature he was chasing, but he did alert police to a parole violation that landed him in the New Hanover County Jail. In another case, the manager of a local condominium building this week reported trespassing related to the playing of the popular smartphone game.

Justin Tyler Peck, 21, of the 300 block of Endicott Ct., Wilmington, was part of a group of at least three people who were reported to police at 1 a.m. on Thursday, July 21 after parking on the town’s municipal grounds while playing the popular game where players capture “monsters” through use of their smartphones. He was charged after it was discovered one member of the group was a minor, putting Peck in violation of parole conditions that stipulate he remain at least 300 feet from minors.

Wrightsville Beach Police Capt. J. Bishop said Peck was not acting suspicious and did not appear to be intentionally violating his parole conditions.

The group was parked near the recycling bins, South Harbor Island garden and the town’s old fire station, where Wrightsville Beach police said there’s a “PokeStop,” an area that helps players resupply and find new creatures. The child present in the group, believed to be between 5 and 8, belonged to another man in the group, police said, who was not believed to be with Peck.

Though it is not illegal for people to be on the town’s property, even late at night, the group of cars parked prompted a call to police of suspicious vehicles in the area. Police did not take Peck into custody on Thursday, but a warrant was taken out for his arrest, which county sheriff’s deputies executed on Saturday, July 23. County sheriff’s records indicate that Peck is currently in jail on a $50,000 bond.

It wasn’t the only recent incident in which Wrightsville Beach police have been called over Pokemon GO. Carol Giachetti, the manager of The Islander condominium building at 1704 N. Lumina Ave., called police on Tuesday to report frequent trespassing by players of the game.

Giachetti said that the Holiday Inn Resort next door to the north has a “PokeStop” at its children’s playground. Some players will park nearby and walk through The Islander’s property to get to the fence line, which appears close enough to access the gaming location. Residents at The Islander have reported seeing cars of players come out at night and congregate near the fence line, she said.

“It’s just sort of mushroomed,” she said. “There have been kids, teenagers, adults, and they’re going into a fairly hazardous area while bypassing private property signs.”

In some cases, parents have dropped off their kids to chase the creatures. Giachetti said she has spoken with the Holiday Inn management, who said they informed staff of the problem. Police told her that they can respond to calls of trespassing.

“I would feel terrible to call 911 for that. By the time police get here, they’ll be gone,” Giachetti said. “People are not respecting signs and private property in general. I definitely have seen a change there.”

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