‘Ottawa’ Teens Used Pokémon Go to lure, rob Victims: U.S. Police
Four U.S. teens may face a harsh reality behind bars after taking the videogame app Pokémon Go too far.
The Pokémon four, all male and ranging in age from 16 to 18 years old, are suspected of a string of robberies in Missouri’s St. Louis and St. Charles counties, police said Sunday.
The smartphone game — massively popular immediately upon its U.S. release on Wednesday — uses GPS and the phone’s camera to construct an augmented reality, in which the user’s real-life environment is shown overlaid with the images of collectible 3D monsters, anchored to particular places.
The suspects allegedly used the “pokestop” feature of the game — which allows users to meet other nearby gamers — to lure their victims, say police.
At around 2 a.m. Sunday, police responded to a report of an armed robbery near a wide intersection in O’Fallon, a city west of St. Louis. At a nearby parking lot police located and arrested four males in a black BMW and recovered a handgun.
One of the suspects in custody was using the gaming app at the time of the Sunday robbery, says Sgt. Bill Stringer.
“These suspects are suspected of multiple Armed Robberies both in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties,” reads a post on the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department’s Facebook page.
The teens are suspected of 10 to 11 robberies since Friday, says Sgt. Stringer.
Nintendo, its creator, says Pokémon Go will be “coming soon” to Canada. Sgt. Stringer, who says he didn’t know much about the game until Sunday’s events, warns that he worries that it could be a hazard.
Hazardous incidents have, indeed, already been reported, with one skateboarder taking a tumble while eyeing his phone and a pedestrian tripping over a cinder block.
The O’Fallon police department warned on their Facebook page for Pokémon Go gamers to “use caution when alerting strangers” of their location.
“Inattentiveness can make you a victim,” after all, says Stringer.
As for the Pokémon four, in the end it was police who caught them all.