O’FALLON, MO (AP) – Police in Missouri say four teens robbed victims after luring them to a specific location using the new Pokemon Go smartphone game.
The four teens used the game to draw victims to a spot in O’Fallon, just outside of St. Louis, and then robbed them.
The recently released game sends players to locations to collect various creatures. Police say the robbers used the game to lure victims by putting a “beacon” at a location to draw in players.
According to reports, police arrested the four teens after responding to a call for a robbery near a gas station Sunday. The suspects are between the ages of 16 and 18.
Police said the suspects may have been involved in similar robberies around St. Louis.
REAL WORLD, VIRTUAL CREATURES
The game was created by Niantic Inc., a San Francisco spinoff of Google parent Alphabet Inc. that previously became known for a similar augmented-reality game called “Ingress.”
To play, you fire up the game and then start trekking to prominent local landmarks — represented in the game as “Pokestops” — where you can gather supplies such as Pokeballs. Those are what you fling at online “pocket monsters,” or Pokemon, to capture them for training. At other locations called “gyms” — which may or may not be actual gyms in the real world — Pokemon battle one another for supremacy.
Naturally, the game has also induced people to post pictures of themselves on social media chasing creatures in all sorts of dangerous situations.
Zubats and Paras have appeared on car dashboards. Caterpies have been spotted at intersections . Police in Darwin, Australia, have even asked players not to waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop in the game.
“You don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs,” the Northern Territory Police Fire and Emergency Services says on its Facebook page.
Ankle injuries, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results.
Kyrie Tompkins, a 22-year-old freelance web designer, fell on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle while wandering in downtown Waterville, Maine, on Thursday night.
“It vibrated to let me know there was something nearby and I looked up and just fell in a hole,” she says. Her parents had to drive her and her fiancé home.
As an upside, players get more exercise than usual and can learn more about the historical landmarks incorporated into the game as Pokestops. Digital signposts describe their significance in the real world.