Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Sinister Side of Pokemon Go Shows Itself

Everyone knows about Pokemon Go by now. It's an augmented reality game that can be downloaded on a phone and played at home and in the world.

Players try to catch colorful cartoon characters by luring them or going out to hunt them down. The game has been received very enthusiastically by many and is being downloaded in record numbers. But like any cultural phenomenon, however positive it may seem, there are downsides. In the case of Pokemon Go, it's the potential for injury and for crime.

Robbed at Gunpoint

Pokemon Go players in Missouri have the dubious distinction of being victims of the first known game-related robberies. Multiple players were reportedly lured to dangerous locations by other players who had a darker game in mind than just finding Pokemon (accounts vary somewhat in media reports, but there seem to have been four teenage males and they are accused of committing multiple robberies with up to eight victims).

According to O'Fallon Missouri Police, four young men in a black BMW attracted players in two counties to out-of-the-way "Poke Stops" where they robbed the other Pokemon Go fans. The local police wrote on their Facebook page, "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."

A Victim Speaks

The police believed at first -- and it was widely publicized in the media -- that the Missouri Pokemon Go robbers used a beacon to attract other players. But one of the victims, who could not stand the credit his alleged robbers were getting apparently, posted a clarification of how his encounter went down at least (there were multiple robberies reported so don't discount the police's version of other events).

He writes, according to Snopes.com, "I am the guy who was robbed at the Pokestop at Feise and K. In the interest of objective truth, everyone is reporting this wrong. There was never any lure. I was walking down a dark street towards a slightly out of the way pokestop and I got robbed by four kids in a black BMW. Everyone is reporting this as cunning teenagers use a lure to capture unsuspecting pokemon players, and that's not quite correct."

Regardless, the young man called the police from inside a store after he was robbed, and with a description of their vehicle, the suspects were picked up. He writes, "I guess when the APB went out there was a police car behind them in traffic and they were all arrested within ten minutes of the robbery itself."

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