Grandma playing Ingress stopped by cops

police-car-lights
I was out early this morning. There were some unclaimed Ingress portals on my map and I wanted to get to them first, since that’s the easiest way for a solo player to rack up some points.

And I did. Five portals altogether. Then I started to work my way back home, pausing wherever I could do a drive-by hack, upgrade someone else’s resonators, etc. When I stopped at one of the last enemy portals, I noticed its resos were down about 50%. It was still heavily defended and a higher level, but I couldn’t resist. I decided to try to take it down. It had been blue forever (4 or 5 days at least) and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

My inventory was overflowing. I had what I needed. But it was going to take a lot of time to knock it down at the rate of just a few percentage points per attack. I sat there with the car idling and the a/c on and whacked away at it. I moved around several times to get closer to the resonators — U-turns, up to the corner and back down on the other side of the street, always pulling well to the side so as not to obstruct traffic. Normally it’s a very quiet intersection, but today there were several city trucks nearby with work crews mowing or pushing rocks around or something. I must have been there at least half an hour. But hey, that’s one of my few advantages in Ingress. I have all the time in the world.

And finally I got it. I beat it down and turned it green. Sweet. Well, stupid, actually. I burned through a ton of inventory. It will take a lot of farming to restock. But again, I’ve got time …

I swung by Taco Bell for some celebratory tacos and headed for home feeling quite pleased with myself. But as I neared the last corner into my neighborhood, I noticed a police car behind me, lights flashing. D’oh!

I turned onto my street and pulled over immediately; he pulled in behind me. Had to be something like a burned out taillight. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.

“We got a report of suspicious activity … license number 123-ABC … intersection Baker Drive … “

That was the intersection where I’d been. Of course I had looked suspicious! I’d have reported me if I’d seen me hanging around like that. I hadn’t gotten in anyone’s way, hadn’t done anything at all illegal. But still, those city crews were there the whole time; they’d have wondered what I was doing.

Oh this is going to be interesting …

“Officer, I was playing this game … “

And to his everlasting credit, he didn’t laugh. He remained polite, respectful, and as I kept talking, interested. He asked to see the app on my phone and I showed him, trying to explain briefly what the game involved. He’d not heard of Ingress and I explained that he and his colleagues might encounter other players in the area, and the sort of places where they might be seen, etc.

I hope the encounter will benefit all concerned. I’d not been playing long when I began reading about players encountering police and how to behave and not behave when approached. Considering a lot of players are out after dark, especially in the winter, and are likely to appear to be loitering, etc., it was all good advice. I did do a double take when I got to the part about what to do if you’re carrying a gun …. Gaming has gone too far when one feels the need to carry a gun in order to play.

Of course it never occurred to me when I started playing this game that I’d be one of the players stopped by the police. But it proved to be a pleasant, interesting conversation. No tickets, warnings, or anything like that. Just a friendly chat.

As the officer was walking back toward his car, I looked back and noticed for the first time that a second squad car had pulled up while we were talking. I said something about it and laughed that I should have taken a picture. He laughed and pointed out that no, actually there were two more squad cars back there! A total of three cop cars lined up behind Grandma, the first one with its lights still flashing!

I can’t imagine what the neighbors must have thought.

enlightenedx100

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Categories: Computers, gaming, Internet, Sci/Tech

26 replies

  1. OMG PT, that’s hilarious! Did someone think Grandma was a terrorist, or casing a place for a robbery? I can’t wait to read what your neighbors had to say! :lol:

    • Fortunately this happened up in the next block, where I don’t know anyone. But I’m sure there were some curious people up there. Players have been arrested, but they were loitering around police stations. Stuff like that. The intersection where I was was practically out in the country. Fields along one side of the road, homes on the other. Almost a dead end.

      • In that short conversation my son and I had about Ingress, he made it seem like I’d be spending a lot of time sight seeing in the downtown area, so I guess I pictured you driving around town hall, office buildings, and the like. What in the world was someone worried about you doing out in the sticks? Did they think you were a little old lady that had lost her way? And why have an Ingress target of interest out the there, when the majority of the players probably live in more urban areas?

        • Said target is near the outer edge of our “suburban sprawl.” I stick to the ‘burbs and leave downtown Denver to those who work there or really want to go there. I’m not at all familiar with it and prefer to avoid the traffic, parking problems, etc. But your son is correct. Downtown is the truly target-rich environment, probably in all cities. The game launched with a bunch of public places (post offices, historical markers and buildings, etc.) already designated. But players can submit places for consideration. The result is ample targets in the suburbs. Statues, churches, monuments, memorials, Masonic lodges, libraries, skate parks, dog parks, playgrounds, etc. Have your son show you the map and see what portals are already in your area. If you need more, submit suggestions. Takes about two weeks for approval or rejection.

  2. Is this a sub-set of Geo-caching or has it replaced it? I guess that I don’t understand the reasoning…. I’ll go google it. It sounds like fun.

    • I think of it as sort of like virtual geocaching or maybe orienteering and have no doubt it will replace geocaching for a lot of people. You don’t have to find little hidden containers (or worry about someone taking them) and you don’t have leave tokens or anything. The capturing of portals has been likened to “capture the flag.” There’s a lot more to it than that, of course. But it’s a lot of fun.

  3. Hey PT, are you using Straight Talk for your Android phone? If so, you might find this Prepaid Phone News article interesting. It talks about something said by that Clark Howard guy I see on Headline News all the time.

    • Yep, I use ST. I’ve seen in forums that people think ST starts throttling users at about 2 GB a month, despite their “unlimited” claims, and I keep an eye on my usage. To date I haven’t even come close to that. But I don’t stream music or videos or anything like that. Thx for the tip, though. I try to keep an eye on what they’re doing.

      • Having never had a cell phone that allowed internet access, those data numbers – and lots of other “smart” related things, mean very little to me. Which, of course, is why I’m so hesitant to jump on that wagon…

        • As you’ll recall, I only got mine last August (“Grandma gets another smartphone“). To me it’s more like a little computer. I don’t think I’ve ever made a call on it. I’ve only sent one or two text messages. I don’t play music or watch videos. I rarely browse the web or check my email. I don’t tweet. I’ve used it occasionally for navigation but I’m still more used to using my old Garmin for that. It’s handy to have all my contacts on it for reference. And my calendar. Time, temp, weather forecast. Assorted small word games, solitaire, etc. It was mostly just for emergency use — until I started playing Ingress. (I did upgrade to a larger screen phone when I started playing.)

  4. That goes in the now I’ve seen everything group

    • LOL. I’ve been stopped by police about three times in my whole life. To have had three cop cars behind me on a single stop — because I was playing a game — is just hilarious. I can say that now, of course, because they didn’t show up and arrest me at the scene of the “crime.”

  5. I don’t know how I missed this entry, but I saw it in your best-sellers and am so glad I clicked in. This is why I heart you.

  6. haha. Thanks for sharing your funny story. In regards to your comment about guns. I don’t think people feel the need to carry a gun to play the game. There are many people who carry a gun that might also enjoy playing ingress.

    • That’s an important distinction and one I should have been careful to make. I might have been thinking about the dangers of playing alone in questionable surroundings, something I’m always cautious about.

  7. My husband and I play in Central Florida. He plays really early in the AM (like 3 AM) before going to work and, on weekends, I play then, too. Anyhow…to date we have been stopped three times, twice by the police and once by a group of firemen who were curious as to why we were hanging around outside their fire station. In all three instances we offered up our ID, tried to explain what we were doing, and assured them that they could find info about the game on-line. (Since then we have made a few copies of the handout for police that is available on line). All of the guys who stopped us looked a little confused as to why we would want to spend our time on something with no tangible reward. One police stop resulted in our being “reminded” that the park we were in closed at dusk…so could we please move on. Another asked US if WE had noticed any suspicious activity (?) But now, at least at the fire station, they mostly just wave when they see either of us out playing!

    • I read somewhere that it helps to mention it’s a worldwide Google game (I neglected to do that). And of course it’s easy enough to look up online. The officer who stopped me just made sure he had “Ingress” spelled correctly; I’m sure he intended to look it up. There’s a fire station near here with two portals in their parking lot. I’ve been meaning to go inside and explain to them why so many people keep swinging through there — but surely by now someone has already done that.

      Our parks are open till 11 pm, far too late, IMHO, for honest folks to be hanging around in a park, especially now that we’re back to standard time and with winter coming on.

  8. I had a very similar situation. I got off work at 1AM and on the way home I saw all these grey and hurting portals. Normally these are all L8 portals for the wrong team and as a new player (I think I was still L2) there was no way I was going to miss the chance. An hour later of walking around, driving around, taking hits and going back for more XP, etc and then all a sudden I had the reds and blues behind me.

    I tried to explain what I was doing and it was just game but he wasn’t buying it when a second copper showed up. They talk and the next thing I know the second copper leans over and asks what level I was at it, I told him and he replies with “I finally got to L8, keep playing but just be careful” and then they both left.

    • Lucky for you the second guy turned up. You’d think by now most of them would know about the game. Still, since I got stopped, I’ve passed on several hacking opportunities because there were cops in the area. I’d prefer not to get stopped again. The next guy might not be as nice as the first one was.

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