A new game app, becoming increasing popular among children and adults alike, reportedly play a hand at least 11 robberies in Missouri. It also helped a Wyoming teen stumble across a deceased man.
New York Daily News reports that Pokémon GO players were allegedly robbed by teenagers who lured the players to remote areas in O’Fallon, Missouri. Pokémon GO, a free downloadable mobile application, uses a phone’s GPS system to detect where a player is located. The game then allows Pokémon to appear before the player on a phone screen. As players travel to different real-world areas, additional virtual Pokémon characters will pop up on the screen, encouraging people to travel more.
Yet, traveling around with the Pokémon GO application is said to be how four teenagers pulled off 11 robberies, after using game’s “Lure Mode” to bait unsuspecting players into isolated parking lots. The teens, who range in ages from 16 to 18, robbed players who were primarily alone and preoccupied with the game, with their eyes on their phone screen. While oblivious players stared at the game, the suspects took the opportunity to snatch their phone from right under their noses, steal other personal belongings, and speed away in a black BMW.
On June 10, at around 2 a.m., four people were arrested for the robberies, including Brett Miller, 17, Jamine Warner, 18, Shane Backer, 18, and an unnamed minor. All four suspects were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action after a gun was found in their vehicle.
Meanwhile, CNN reports that Pokémon GO also helped a player in rural Wyoming unintentionally discover a dead body. Shayla Wiggins, 19, was playing the game in an attempt to find a “water area,” which led her to Wind River, a little south of Riverton, where she stumbled upon the body of a 28-year-old man, later identified as Jeffrey Day.
Although no foul play is suspected in the death, it shook Wiggins to the core. She admitted she would never have been in the area if not for the popular game. She described the situation as frightening, and something she never expected to happen upon.
“As I looked one way, I noticed that there was something in the water in front of me. And so I took a closer look and saw it was a body. I was crying and shaking really bad because it was a very scary situation.”
Authorities stated that they’ll know more about the death once a coroner’s report comes in, but it seems to be a possible drowning incident. According to a statement provided by The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office,
“At this time the investigation is ongoing. Further details as to the circumstances surrounding the death will be released after preliminary autopsy results are received and we have a clearer picture of what occurred.”
In the meantime, the O’Fallon Police Department took to Facebook to warn parents and anyone who plays Pokémon GO to use utmost caution when using the app.
“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.”
Despite the potential dangers, Pokémon GO has reached astronomical heights worldwide, with millions of gamers playing daily. In Massachusetts, one particular gamer, Boon Sheridan, turned his home, an old church, into a “training gym” for Pokémon GO, where people can come to train their virtual game characters.
This is what I'm a little leery of. People pulled up, blocking my drive way as they sit on their phones. pic.twitter.com/WpRbilk6g6— Boon Sheridan (@boonerang) July 10, 2016
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]