Missouri teens used Pokemon Go to lure robbery victims -police

The hot new game was used to lure victims into armed robberies.

REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/Illustrati­on
The augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016.

Popular new mobile game Pokemon Go was used by four teens in Missouri to lure nearly a dozen victims into armed robberies, police and media reports said on Monday.

The game surged to the top of Apple Inc's app charts over the weekend and involves finding and capturing virtual Pokemon characters at various real life locations.

Police in O'Fallon, a suburb of St. Louis, arrested the four teens on Sunday after a robbery victim called police from a convenience store, according to a police statement.

Police warned players to be vigilant when using smartphones and other mobile devices to search for characters in the game developed by Pokemon Company International, Niantic Inc and Nintendo Co Ltd.

"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.

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.

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 $100,000 and each of those charged was still held early on Monday, according to the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said there were nearly a dozen victims.

Developers of the "augmented reality" game urged players to take precautions as they tracked down characters like Pikachu using the GPS mapping and camera systems on their devices.

"We encourage all people playing Pokemon Go to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places," Pokemon Company International and Niantic said in an emailed statement.

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 PokemonGo's success. 

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