Pokemon Go players striving to "catch 'em all" are being recruited by Rotorua police to help catch more than the fictional species.
The Pokemon Go app allows players to find the pocket monsters using a GPS signal on their smartphones. When the player closes in on one, the device's camera turns on, showing the Pokemon in "real life". The aim is to "catch 'em all".
Rotorua crime prevention manager Inspector Stu Nightingale said there had been an increase in people breaking into cars around the Government Gardens and the Polynesian Spa prior to Pokemon Go becoming popular. "The Government Gardens and Polynesian Spa are easy to target because they are areas that aren't very well lit."
Nightingale said police noticed Pokemon Go players, including a police officer, were going "hunting" in those areas, including the Government Gardens.
He said the officer had posted on the group's Facebook page asking fellow players to stick together, to keep safe and to report anything out of place to the police.
"I just thought, 'Great! There's another set of eyes and ears for us'. The officer saw it as a good crime prevention opportunity outside of work and it makes people more aware of the car thefts that have been happening. We want them to be safe as well."
Nightingale said technology was constantly evolving and it was a great tool.
"Having bunches of people roaming around the Government Gardens at all hours chasing Pokemon is a great opportunity for us ... it will deter thieves and also there's more people to report to us what's happening as well."
Andrew Sill, a 33-year-old avid Pokemon hunter, is part of the group who catches Pokemon at the Government Gardens late at night.
He said: "Any bad behaviour that we can stomp out or at least help catch it, it's all for the better."