Car chase tag game worries city officials

December 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
There's a new game that teenagers are playing that has a lot of adults worried. It's called "Fugitive." Basically, kids in cars chase kids on foot. Now, this Bay Area export is catching the attention of teenagers and police nationwide.

The game is "Fugitive," where teenagers split into two teams of fugitives and cops. The fugitives need to reach a landmark by avoiding major roads and traveling only on foot, and the cops drive around looking for them.

"I think it's fun because it's something new and gives us something to do. There's not a lot to do around here," says 16-year-old Kari Clark.

"Fugitive" is believed to have started at Saratoga High School.

"Some people I know play it all the time," says Clark.

And the game is growing in popularity. Games are played in suburban cities across the country and they're posted on YouTube, but problems are also growing. This month, a teenager playing one of the cops crashed into a tree and fence outside Seattle.

"The whole concept is a little bit sketchy," says Saratoga Mayor Howard Miller.

Saratoga's mayor watched some of the video. He'd like his city to be known by teens as something other than the birth place of "Fugitive."

"It certainly unsafe to those who are playing, whether you are in the car or not in the car," says Miller.

When students play in Saratoga, they start at the school's parking lot. The fugitives' goal is to reach a Starbucks a half mile away. They usually run through neighborhoods, jump fences, and hide in bushes.

"It's a little risky, but if you're in your neighborhood and you know the people, then it's more acceptable," says Courtney Brandt, 16 years old.

Sheriff's deputies who patrol Saratoga find nothing acceptable about it. Especially when they get 911 calls about prowlers or high speed chases, when in actuality they're students playing "Fugitive."

"This is a serious problem. It is taking up manpower and resources that can be provided for other emergency services," says Santa Clara Co. Sheriff's Cpt. Terry Calderone.

Ryan Tang was one of the first to play the game in 2003.

"When we played, no one goes into anyone's backyard and no one drives recklessly," says Tang.

Locally, the games are also played in Cupertino and Los Altos.


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