Police say armed robbers used ‘Pokémon Go’ to target victims in Missouri

Posted at 4:20 PM, Jul 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-10 16:32:00-04

O’FALLON, Mo. — Missouri police are warning players on the smartphone game Pokémon Go to use caution after some have been targets of a string of robberies.

Pokémon Go, a geocaching game that has players venturing off to the real world to “catch ’em all,” has been mesmerizing fans worldwide. The O’Fallon Police Department said armed thieves have been targeting players. They lure the users to an isolated location and rob them, according to the department’s Facebook page.

The latest robbery happened Sunday around 2 a.m.  The person was near Feise Road and Highway K when four occupants of a black BMW robbed the victim.

Police were able to catch the four people at a CVS nearby. One of the occupants tried to throw a handgun from the vehicle, according to KTVI.

The suspects, said to be between the ages of 16 to 18, are linked to similar robberies that happened in St. Louis and St. Charles counties recently, KTVI said.

O’Fallon police believe the suspected robbers were adding a beacon to a Pokéstop to lure players and target them in the parking lots.

“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,” O’Fallon police wrote on Facebook.

The new game may be a dream come true for Pokémon diehards, but it raises many safety concerns worldwide. Some are worried that the game will bring them to dangerous places.

Last week a teenager discovered a dead man’s body in a river in rural Wyoming while playing the game.

The app does warn users to be aware of their surroundings.

Darwin Police Station in Australia also posted a message on its Facebook page asking players not to go hunting for a character at the station and to look up from their phones when they cross the street.

Pokemon Go turns the premise of the popular Game Boy games into an augmented reality experience played on mobile phones and based on GPS coordinates.

The game is a cooperation between Niantic, Inc., Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company.

“For the first time, with this game, Pokémon are going to roam free in the real world,” John Hanke, CEO of Niantic said.

“Pokémon GO will allow players to capture Pokémon who inhabit parks, shopping areas, sidewalks, and the countryside in places all around the world,” Hanke added.

Hanke also hinted that popular Pokémon like Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Pikachu are hiding by popular spots like the waterfront in San Francisco.