Last week, people all over the U.S. started walking around in circles staring at their phones. No, they're not lost; they're playing a game – Pokémon Go. Most of those who have started playing, are reporting positive experiences, but that isn't the case for some Pokémon trainers in O'Fallon, Missouri. Early Sunday morning, they were robbed at gunpoint.
On their Facebook page, the O'Fallon Police Department said that at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, they received reports of armed robbery. Responding to the complaints, police located four suspects in a black BMW and recovered a handgun. Based on the details provided by the victims, it is believed that the suspects targeted their victims though the Pokémon Go app.
In response to questions on Facebook, the police agency explained how they felt the game was a contributing factor in the reported crime:
"...the way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a [Poké Stop] 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..."
The agency went on to offer some safety advice for parents of Pokémon trainers, or adults looking to get in on the fun.
"Many of you have heard of Pokémon Go, but for those that have not, it is a type of Geo Caching game where you find and capture Pokémon characters at various locations. If you use this app (or other similar type apps) or have children that do, we ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location."
Unfortunately, since the game's release, players have reported injuries.
One player fell in a ditch and required a trip to the emergency room, according to their post on Reddit. Another player, also posting to Reddit, shared a warning sent to students at a medical school in Arizona, which told students to approach Pokémon with caution, and to "remember to look up from your phone to prevent tripping or running into something."
Tragically, a Wyoming teen discovered a body while looking for Pokémon near a natural water resource. Police believe the deceased had been there for less than 24-hours.
Related to the O'Fallon Police Department report, the Philadelphia police (35th district) issued a warning on Sunday evening that they're seeing a string of robberies related to the game, as players are being targeted when the gather in public locations.
The first tip is to remind them of stranger danger, Pokémon Go has started to bring people together from all walks of life – and that's a good thing – but the risks are still there. Police also advise parents to set limits on how far and where children playing the game can go. Finally, pay attention to your surroundings, else you'll walk into a ditch – or worse – in to the middle of the road.
Dispelling false news and rumors:
Despite reports otherwise, a Denver man was not responsible for a massive traffic accident because he was trying capture a rare Pokémon; however, there is concern that drivers will pay more attention to the game than to the road, so police are issuing warnings.
The reports that a 15-year-old stabbed his little brother to death, because he thought the younger child had deleted all of his Pokémon, are false. Also false, are the reports of a Chicago teenager being stabbed and mugged for his iPhone.
Finally, reports that the Simpsons predicted the Pokémon Go game years before it was released - while amusing - are not true.