In the world of Pokemon Go, it’s your mission to catch ’em all — just make sure you’re not catching the eye of a would-be thief in the process.
Four people in O’Fallon, Missouri were charged this weekend with first degree robbery after allegedly using the app, which prompts users to go outside and meet other players, as a means to lure victims into secluded areas before swindling them. “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,” read a statement from the O’Fallon Police Department on Facebook.
Police arrested four people in a black BMW in a CVS parking lot shortly after receiving reports of theft in the area. The car’s occupants reportedly attempted to discard a handgun from the vehicle as an officer approached the car. The suspects were later identified as the perpetrators of similar crimes in nearby St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Their bond is set at $100,000 each, according to Sgt. Bill Stringer.
“Using the geolocation feature, the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.” Stringer said via statement, referencing Pokemon Go’s in-game GPS system, which creates a virtual world based on the landscape around its users. It also takes advantage of smartphone cameras, superimposing images of fantastical creatures over real-world settings.
A department spokesperson also added: “You can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players. Apparently [the robbers] were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”
Since the game’s release, Pokemon Go has resulted in several injuries, including skateboard spills, twisted ankles, and revolving door mishaps.
The game also led a Wyoming teenager to a dead body. CNN reports 19-year old Shayla Wiggins was searching for a water Pokemon near the Big Wind River when she came across a man’s body lying face-down in the water.
“I guess I was only paying attention to my phone and where I was walking,” Wiggins told CNN. “I probably would have never went down there if it weren’t for this game… But in a way, I’m thankful. I feel like I helped find his body. He could have been there for days.”