Pokemon Go Players Vandalized Morikami Museum

There's no escaping the cult phenomenon of Pokémon Go in South Florida. Millennials teem the tri-county area on their phones, hunting for invisible creatures in what the app calls an "augmented reality." Generally, the battling and violence stay in the virtual realm, but the Morikami Museum is reporting that Pokémon Go players are trashing their property in real life. 

Late Wednesday afternoon, a desperate plea appeared on the Delray Beach-based Japanese garden's social media accounts. It begged players not to climb on trees or vandalize the gardens, and to "refrain from disruptive behavior, such as running or yelling." Three photos show white graffiti on trees and a wooden bench referring to the game, stating "Team Instinct Rocks," "VALOR IS TRASH," and "Mewtwo wuz here."

"That's unacceptable (and I'm team Valor)," a Pokémon Go player named Heather commented on Facebook. "We, as humans, must be better than this! Use your brains!"

"I am so sorry to see there are some people out there taking this friendly rivalry too far," wrote Stacy Krupilis, another player. "This is not okay." 

Player Matt Spruce Spoutz added: "They were nice enough to welcome us to their property to play our game, and we couldn't even keep it together for a week to thank them."

Though Pokémon Go has been a huge success with nearly 7.5 million app downloads in a few days, there have been unforeseen consequences. One Wyoming teen stumbled upon a dead body while looking for Pokémon in her neighborhood. In Missouri, armed robbers used the game to set up a "beacon" to lure unassuming players. A message to Palm Beach Sheriff's Office inquiring about any other Pokémon Go-related crimes or other vandalism was not immediately returned. We will update the post when they respond.

The Morikami Museum is an obvious spot for players. The sprawling gardens are home to 15 PokéStops and two gyms. On July 9, the Morikami Museum welcomed players to the property with this message on Facebook: Since admission costs $15 per person, the PokéStops and gyms might have first seemed good for business. But now it appears administrators might be regretting that decision.

If people see Pokémon Go players vandalizing the gardens or being too rowdy, they are instructed to immediately call security.

Fortunately, in this instance, the white graffiti was chalk and has been removed.  

"We take a lot of pride in meticulously maintaining our garden for our visitors. Chalk or not, this behavior is unacceptable."
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson