Akin to geocaching, Pokémon Go has players traversing real-life locations in the hopes of capturing virtual Pokémon and battling different gyms. Unfortunately, the game seems to have already been exploited by real-life robbers, according to the O’Fallon Police Department.
The robbers, who range from 16 to 18 years old, are believed to be behind 10 to 11 armed robberies in the St. Louis and St. Charles counties, where they used PokéStops to anticipate where players might be, in order to rob them at gunpoint. These stops, which can be designated at any real-world location, are places where players can stock up on items that pop out at random, with some appearing only after you reach a certain level.
“The way we believe [the app] was used is you can add a beacon to a PokéStop to lure more players,” wrote the O’Fallon Police Department on Facebook. “Apparently, they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever location they were in.”
Fortunately for Pokémon Go players, the robbers were apprehended by police shortly after an armed robbery they committed at around 2:00 in the morning in a black BMW. In a press release after the arrests, the O’Fallon Police Department announced that three adult suspects were charged with robbery in the first degree and armed criminal action.
The fourth suspect, who is a juvenile, was transferred to the St. Charles Juvenile Justice Center. The three adults, meanwhile, were transferred to the St. Charles County Department of Corrections, with bond set at $100,000 cash for each.
Unfortunately for Pokémon Go, this is just the latest in a series of negative press for the nascent app. A teenager playing the GPS-centric game in Wyoming recently came across a dead body, and the app’s global rollout was halted when its servers were unable to catch up to demand.