Robbery suspects used Pokemon GO app to lure players into trap
A group of suspected armed robbers in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016 in Missouri reportedly used the hugely popular augmented reality game Pokémon GO to target their victims. Police believe they used the game to, “add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players” and then used the app to locate victims.
Pokemon GO is an “augmented reality” game that allows users to capture, train and battle Pokemon who appear in the real world. Players can pick up supplies at real-world landmarks that serve as “pokestops” in the game. There are also reports of Pokemon GO users getting injured while trying to catch the digital monsters.
According to a Facebook post by the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department:
“This morning at approximately 2 am we responded to the report of an Armed Robbery near the intersection of Highway K and Feise Road. We were able to locate four suspects occupying a black BMW a short time later and recover a handgun. These suspects are suspected of multiple Armed Robberies both in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties. It is believed these suspects targeted their victims through the Pokemon GO smart phone application.
“Many of you have heard of Pokemon GO, but for those that have not, it is a type of Geo Caching game where you find and capture Pokemon characters at various locations. If you use this app (or other similar type apps) or have children that do we ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location.”
Referring to the robbery that occurred in his jurisdiction, O’Fallon Police Sergeant Robert Kendal told ABC News, “Nobody was hurt, and no shots were fired in ours.”
Three of the teens – identified as 18-year-old Michael Baker, 18-year-old Jamine James D Warner and 17-year-old Brett W Miller – were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. The three are being held on a $100,000 cash-only bail, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
The fourth suspect, an unidentified 16-year-old, is in the custody of juvenile authorities.
Some of the victims were playing the new smartphone game and others may have been unaware of their surroundings, the Post-Dispatch noted.
“Apparently they were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in,” the police statement posted on Facebook said. The statement added, “If you use this app (or other similar type apps) or have children that do we ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location.”
Pokemon GO has been a viral sensation since its release on July 6, 2016 and is now the No. #1 free app in Apple Inc’s U.S. iTunes store.