Armed group of teens used Pokemon Go to lure robbery victims in United States
Nearly a dozen Pokemon Go fans hunting animated characters themselves became the hunted, after a group of armed teens staked out one geolocation to rob players in the US state of Missouri.
The just-released smartphone game, which involves finding and capturing virtual Pokemon characters at various locations, surged to the top of Apple's app charts over the weekend - but police have warned players to be cautious, after reports of injuries, trespassing, and even the discovery of a dead body.
Police in O'Fallon, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, arrested four teens on Sunday after a victim called police from a convenience store to report robbed by a group of teenagers who were waiting to pounce on players.
Brett William Miller, 17, allegedly displayed a handgun and demanded the victim's wallet and cash, police said. Shane Michael Baker, 18, was driving a BMW used in the crime while James D. Warner, 18, was present during the robbery, police said.
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All three were charged with robbery and armed criminal action while a fourth teen was arrested and turned over to juvenile services, the O'Fallon police said in a release.
Bond was set at US$100,000 and each of those charged was still held early on Monday, according to the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney.
O'Fallon police on Facebook warned area residents about Pokemon Go, which uses a mobile phone's mapping and camera to play the free "augmented reality" game that was developed in part by Nintendo Co Ltd.
A Nintendo spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
"Using the geolocation feature of the Pokemon Go app, the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims," O'Fallon police Sergeant Bill Stringer said in a release.
"The Pokemon, graphics and sound effects are computer-generated, but seeing a Pikachu on the sidewalk in front of you is a fan's digital dream come true," Stringer said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said there were nearly a dozen victims.
The game was the most downloaded free app on Apple's app store while Nintendo's shares surged nearly 25 percent for their biggest daily gains in history based on Pokemon Go's success.