The new Pokemon Go smartphone game has hundreds of thousands of people tethered to their phones and its number of daily users is about to surpass that of Twitter.
But apparently, the game, meant to while away an afternoon of boredom, is now being abused with criminal activities after four teens robbed some players after luring them towards a certain location in search of Pokemons.
The game requires players to move in the real world in order for their avatar in the game to move too. They must then go to different locations, known as “Pokéstops,” in order to earn more points.
The robbers, who apparently seem well versed with how the game proceeds, placed a “beacon” at a certain spot in O’ Fallon, near St. Louis in Missouri, and then led a 33-year-old player to the location and robbed him. Sgt. Bill Stringer of the O’Fallon Police Department said that the robbers used the “geolocation” feature of the app to track unsuspecting people’s whereabouts and then robbed them.
Shane Michael Backer and Jamine James D. Warner, both 18, and 17-year-old Brett William Miller were arrested on charges of first degree robbery and armed criminal action. A 16-year-old was also allegedly involved in the robbery but for now, charges for the suspect remain unclear.
Police suspect the four teenagers carried out around eight robberies in the area using the gaming app.
The incident is a good reminder that apps that use our locations can be dangerous, as sharing one's whereabouts has real-world consequences. While the internet can be a great place to meet new people and learn more about the world beyond where we live, it is important to be careful of the information we share with others, in order to not fall victim to a crime.