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11th Jul 2016

Robbers are using Pokemon Go to lure unsuspecting victims

Real life Team Rocket.

Carl Anka

Armed robbers have been found using Pokemon Go to lure victims into a trap in Missouri, America.

Released in limited territories early in July, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality smartphone game where would-be Pokemon trainers use real life landmarks and locations to help them catch monsters using their smartphone.

It is believed that the armed robbers in questions used a local landmark in Missouri that held certain advantages for Pokemon trainers, and used it to set a trap.


Police officers were alerted to this trap at 2am on Monday 11 July, where they responded to a robbery report in in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Four people, aged 16 to 18 were operating in a black BMW in a CVS (a pharmacy chain) parking lot. When a police officer approached, an occupant tried to dispense of a handgun. One of the officers in question, Sgt Bill Stringer, then identified the four people as suspects in similar armed robberies described in St Louis and St Charles counties.

“Using the geolocation feature,” Sgt Stringer said, “the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.”

In a separate statement, a department spokesperson added: “you can add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”

Stringer also said that parents should be aware if their kids or teens are sharing their locations with the world, as it can have unforeseen consequences.

“Parents need to be aware of the situation. The potential for taking something that’s benign and making it nefarious is obviously there,” he said.

The news is the latest development in Pokemon Go. In asking gamers to walk around an explore their real life environments to find gyms, join teams and battle, many would be Pokemon trainers are finding themselves in awkward and sometimes dangerous situations.

This weekend, designer Boon Sheridan found that his house, a converted church, had turned into a Pokemon Gym, causing an influx of people to spend extended periods of time on his doorstep.


Pokemon GO is still to be released in the UK as it undergoes server and connectivity issues.