Police Say Armed Robbers Used Pokémon Go App to Target Victims

Missouri police say armed robberies were perpetrated by suspects who lured players to an area by using the Pokémon Go app.

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A string of armed robberies that took place in Missouri in the early morning hours of 10 July 2016 were perpetrated by suspects who targeted their victims using Pokémon Go, a popular augmented reality game, 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.

In response to many public queries about how Pokémon Go (a game app that uses “real locations to encourage players to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokemon”) could have been used to facilitate armed robberies, O’Fallon Police said:

Many of you have asked how the app was used to rob victims, the way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players. 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.

O’Fallon Police Sgt. Robert Kendall said that his department did not have knowledge about all of the robberies committed by the suspects, but a handgun was recovered and the department would be applying for warrants of the four suspects in question.

A reader wrote to us to say that he was a victim of the described robbery and that the police description of the crime was inaccurate:

I am the guy who was robbed at the Pokestop at Feise and K. In the interest of objective truth, everyone is reporting this wrong. There was never any lure. I was walking down a dark street towards a slightly out of the way pokestop and I got robbed by four kids in a black BMW. Everyone is reporting this as cunning teenagers use a lure to capture unsuspecting pokemon players, and that’s not quite correct.

I was walking from the Circle K at Highway K in O’Fallon and Feisy Rd to the Salt Dome when a black BMW slowly pulled up to me [and the occupants robbed me]. The police told me that they had been chasing and missing these guys all night. I called the police from inside the Circle K and the dispatcher put out an APB on a black BMW with four teenaged males. I guess they cut through the parking lot across the street from me and drove back onto highway K. I guess when the APB went out there was a police car behind them in traffic and they were all arrested within ten minutes of the robbery itself.

Pokemon Go has been a viral sensation since its release on 6 July 2016 and is now the No. #1 free app in Apple Inc’s U.S. iTunes store.