NEWS BRIEF Teens and nostalgic millennials have spent the past few days losing their minds over the reincarnation of Pokémon, the classic game and cartoon from the early 2000s, as a new mobile app that allows them to catch ’em all. But a handful of users in Missouri found another, more sinister purpose for the app over the weekend.
At about 2 a.m. Sunday, police in the city of O’Fallon responded to a report of an armed robbery. They arrested four people in connection with the crime, confiscated a handgun, and learned the suspects had used Pokémon Go to lure their victims. The O’Fallon Police Department described the robbery in a Facebook post, which quickly confused readers.
“Many of you have asked how the app was used to rob victims, the way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players,” the department wrote in an update to its post. “Apparently they were using the app to locate ppl [sic] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”
Let’s start with what Pokémon Go is: It’s a free app for iOS and Android devices, developed by California-based Niantic. It was released last week in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand and quickly rose to the top of Apple’s free apps list. So many people were using it in its first few days that its servers crashed repeatedly.