Man at His Best

Robbers In Missouri Lure Victims With Pokémon Go

Gotta catch 'em all takes quite a sinister turn.

BY BEATRICE BOWERS | Jul 11, 2016 | Technology


Pokémon Go's debut last week was no short of magical. App stores crashed, Reddit threads on how to be the very best abounded, and memes plagued social media aplenty. It was a fairly innocent time, where the average Pokémon Go player's main concern was one of two things - how to make their phone batteries last the gym battle, and if they'd have to venture to a cemetery to find that rare Pokémon.

Until one player stumbled upon a dead body. And then criminals in O'Fallon, Missouri decided to employ the game's geo-tag capabilities to lure unsuspecting victims into isolated traps where they'd rob them blind. The O'Fallon police officers were alerted to four local residents aged 16 to 18, seated in a parked BMW, reported as the suspected robbers. Upon the officer's approach, one robber attempted to discharge a handgun. The four were apprehended, and subsequently charged with first degree robbery.

Police reports ascertained that the robbers utilised the game's GPS functionalities to source for secluded Pokéstops (areas where a player could go to find new Pokémon, Pokéballs, and other rare items) where unwitting players could be effortlessly robbed. The robbers were also suspected of using the game's Lure Module, a feature any player can purchase and "drop" for 30 minutes at a particular location to increase the likelihood of Pokémon appearing, to tempt the influx of more victims. Similar instances were also alerted to the police in St. Louis and St. Charles counties prior.

While Pokémon Go does compel one to venture out and engage with the world, whether it inspires players to pay attention to their surroundings is a whole other matter up for debate. We can only assure you that a Pidgeotto is never worth losing a wallet over.