In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pokémon GO is the virtual game that is sweeping the nation. The geocatching mobile app allows users to find and capture Pokémon characters at various locations. While the idea behind the game is genius, it has brought on a surge of Pokémon GO-related crimes that have many users wondering if finding the Pikachu is really worth it.
Across the world, players are not only getting arrested, they are also solving crimes. Local police departments have thanked countless Pokémon GO players for locating dead bodies, and thwarting off criminals. But the popularity of the game makes players easy targets for robbers. Criminals have been targeting Pokémon GO players who are searching for the virtual characters in the real world.
However, you’ve got to be concerned about the millions of kids and teens who are being drawn to this game, while leaving themselves susceptible to the dangers of the outside world. In no way, shape or form should kids be the victim of a crime or something bigger altogether while running around in order to catch cartoon-like characters.
So before you fire up the app, read our list of 15 Pokémon GO-related crimes that have us all on high alert.
15. University Students Robbed
Imagine just walking around campus with a group of your friends in the middle of the night. You’re all just minding your own business while playing Pokémon GO on your cell phones. Suddenly, an armed robber approaches you. This is exactly what happened to four University of Maryland students on the night of July 12, 2016. The group of friends were walking around the university’s College Park campus and playing the game when the suspect approached them with a gun in his hands. The robber, dressed in all-black clothing, flashed his handgun before taking two of the victims’ cell phones. Thankfully, none of the victims were hurt during the robbery. But unfortunately for the university’s student body, the suspect has yet to be found. We wouldn’t be surprised if students were afraid to play the game after this incident was reported.
14. Armed Robbers Target Players
On July 10, 2016, the O’Fallon Police Department in Missouri issued a warning to all Pokémon GO players. According to the press release posted to the department’s Facebook page, armed robbers in the city had targeted victims directly through the smart phone application. At 2 a.m. that evening, police were called to an armed robbery, and four suspects were apprehended. Many residents were confused as to how the suspects were able to use the app to prey on their victims. O’Fallon Police broke it down for them by stating the suspects were adding beacons to a poke stop in a parking lot to lure in the players. The suspects were later pulled over in a black BMW, and a handgun was recovered. They are suspected of being behind multiple armed robberies in the area. The police department issued a final warning to parents and children playing the app saying, “We ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location.”
13. Men Robbed & Carjacked
In Antelope, California, David Wallace and his friend were sitting in their car in front of Lone Oak Park. They had both been playing Pokémon GO for about 20 minutes when the suspect approached. Brandishing his handgun, the suspect told both victims, “If you don’t want to get hurt, give me your phones.” The suspect then ordered the men out of Wallace’s Suzuki Grand Vitara, and drove off. Wallace was full of regret after being interviewed by KCRA-TV. He told the news station if he hadn’t been playing the game, he wouldn’t have been at the park, and the incident would have never occurred. Unfortunately for the victims, the suspect, the vehicle, their cash, and their cell phones have yet to be recovered. This incident has led the police department to issue warnings to all players, such as “stay vigilant as you play,” and “always play in well-lit areas.”
12. Phone Snatched In Richmond, VA
Despite being a hotspot on the mobile app, Richmond, Virginia’s Monroe Park was the cite of a phone theft. On July 19, 2016 at 2 a.m., the victim was in the park to catch one of the elusive Pokémon GO characters. The victim was with a friend when they were approached by two men. After a brief conversation, one of the men grabbed the cell phone from the victim’s hands, and fled on foot. The police have yet to catch the suspect who will be charged with Grand Larceny when he is finally apprehended. But for now, the Richmond Police Department has beefed up the amount of officers in the surrounding areas. Visits to Monroe Park have increased since the launch of Pokémon GO, but if you have to deal with criminals just to get an increase in your score, you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
11. Trespassing at a Residence
One unlucky Massachusetts resident discovered his home was listed as a Pokémon gym on the mobile app when he noticed people trespassing on his property. Boon Sheridan lives in an old church with his family, and Pokémon GO players have been driving up to his house, hanging out in his garden, and blocking his driveway. In the virtual world, a gym is place where people can train their fictional characters, it’s just too bad Sheridan’s home was labeled as the designated spot. Thankfully, he is taking it all in stride, and he even greeted one of the Pokémon GO players who “owns the gym.” But the constant flow of cars at all hours of the day and night has to get annoying at some point. Perhaps Sheridan should download the app himself and join in on the fun. Hey, at least he wouldn’t have to venture off far to go to the gym.
10. Marines Catch Attempted Murder Suspect
A couple “always faithful” Marines saved the day in Southern California when they came face-to-face with an attempted murder suspect. The incident took place in the city of Fullerton where the two marines, Seth Ortega and Javier Soch, were playing Pokémon GO at a park. Soch’s game froze, and when he looked up, he noticed a man carrying a red plastic rose. The man approached a woman and her three children with the rose, but the woman took her children and ran away. While she called 9-1-1, the marines continued to watch the suspicious man. Next, the man approached another woman and her two children, who were also playing Pokémon GO. The marines observed the man touch one of the kids, and that’s when they rushed over to him and stood next to him until the police arrived. The man was arrested for child annoyance, and it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for attempted murder in Sonoma, California!
9. Teen Finds Dead Body
One of the most popular Pokémon GO-related crimes comes from Wyoming. A teenage girl named Shayla Wiggins was playing the mobile app when she discovered a dead body in Big Wind River. The 19-year-old Wiggins was in the process of catching virtual characters as she walked through the city’s parking lot and a local gas station. She then decided to explore the Big Wind River, and that’s when she discovered the body. Wiggins told CNN, “I was trying to get a water Pokemon,” and that’s when she saw the man’s body laying face down six feet to her left. She immediately called the police, and they determined the man probably drowned in the three-feet of water. The death is still being investigated as an accident, but leave it to a Pokémon GO player to bring some closure to the deceased man’s family.
8. Game Leads Players To Sex Offender’s Home
If this doesn’t shake you up, I don’t know what will. Phoenix police have reported that the Pokémon GO mobile app is leading users to a location that houses registered sex offenders. One of the beacons that is used in the game is the New Windsor Hotel – a residence where 43 sex offenders call home. The hotel is listed as a “historic place” which is probably why it is used as a beacon on the app, but despite this new finding, players don’t seem too concerned. A young gamer was interviewed, and although she said it was concerning, she says the rewards for the location are about 100-feet from the action residence. The city’s police department is reminding parents and children to be extra cautious while playing the game…you never know where it may lead you!
7. Burglars Arrested
Here’s one crime-related Pokémon GO story that actually has a happy ending. Police in South Yorkshire give credit to Pokémon GO players who alerted police off a robbery in progress. According to the police’s Facebook page, a bunch of players were wandering around an industrial estate hunting Pokémon GO characters when they spotted some suspicious activity in a builder’s yard. The players immediately called police, and they did so just in time. The suspects were on their way out with the stolen goods when the police showed up. Two suspects were arrested for commercial burglary, and they were immediately locked up! Despite thanking the players for their vigilance, the police department was still a little perplexed as to what Pokémon GO is all about. A representative for the department wrote on its Facebook page, “I have no idea what a Pokémon is, but I am sure someone will happily educate me!”
6. Fire Truck Cut Off
Pokémon GO players in St. Louis put themselves and firefighters in danger while on the hunt for the virtual characters. The Fairview Caseyville Township’s fire truck was cut off by a van full of Pokémon GO players. The incident was discussed on the fire department’s Facebook page as a warning to all of the mobile app’s players. In the post, a representative for the fire department said the ladder truck was being used to replace an American flag at the local autism center. The 81,000 pound ladder is unable to come to an abrupt stop, but that didn’t bother these Pokémon GO players who decide to run a stop sign and cut the truck off. As they passed through the intersection, one of the passengers yelled to the firemen, “Sorry we are chasing Pokémon!” This could have ended terribly, but thankfully, the fire truck barely missed the van. The fire department issued this statement to the culprits, “We hope you lost the Pokémon you were searching for. Have a wonderful day.”
5. Trespassing At Cemeteries
Pokémon GO is full of historic sites, but these sacred areas are telling players to kick rocks! Many cemeteries across the U.S. have issued stern warnings to players, asking them to refrain from playing the mobile app on their grounds. In St. Louis, a cemetery representative said Pokémon GO players are disrespecting and crossing the line “as far as the families of America’s veterans and war dead are concerned.” Pokémon GO players were also caught redhanded at the National Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. These players were wandering around the grave sites of some of the military troops were killed. And for those of you who plan on visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to get your Pokémon GO on, don’t even bother. The cemetery has already warned users that playing the game on its grounds is against federal law, and you’ll be doing some jail time for playing the mobile app at U.S. Military burial sites. You’ve been warned!
4. Holocaust Museum Outraged
The United States Holocaust Museum is a designated poke stop, but you run the risk of facing jail time if you play the mobile app on its premises. An influx of Pokémon GO players have outraged the Holocaust museum. According to NPR, the museum has contacted Pokémon GO’s developer, Niantic Labs, and ask that they remove the museum from the game immediately. But until that is taken care of, users run the risk of being popped for trespassing if they step foot on the grounds with the intent to play the mobile app. The museum’s director of communications has spoken out about players using the museum to train their characters. He has called it “extremely inappropriate” for the museum, which is dedicated to the victims of Nazism, to be associated with such a game. Pokémon GO players should definitely think twice before entering the Holocaust museum.
3. Teen Siblings Robbed
A teenage brother and sister were having such a great time playing Pokémon GO… that is until they were robbed! The incident took place around 8 p.m. in San Francisco. The teens were sharing a phone while playing the interactive game. They noticed a man across the street watching them. They continued to play the game, and walked around aimlessly through the city. A few blocks later, they saw the man once again. The man approached them, and snatched the cell phone from their hands. He then ran into a waiting vehicle and fled. The suspect is still at large, but thankfully, the brother and sister were unharmed during the robbery. While police continue to investigate the crime, players of the mobile app are told to be aware of their surroundings. You never know who may be lurking around the corner!
2. Virginia Police Issue Trespassing Warning
Trespassing has been a huge issue with the Pokémon GO app, and in Virginia, trespassing has become such a problem, the police had to step in. After an influx in trespassing and suspicious activity, the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia is prepared to apprehend any Pokémon GO players who venture onto private property. The sheriff’s office has received numerous calls of the mobile app’s players wandering onto businesses, government buildings and churches – all in an attempt to catch the virtual characters. A trespassing charge may not seem like a big deal, but is it something you really want to have on your record? And is it really worth it just to capture the Onix? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So what is the moral of the story? If you choose to start up that Pokémon GO app, make sure you play it at your own risk!
1. Wanted Criminal Gets Arrested
A young man thought he was going to spend the day capturing characters on Pokémon GO, but instead, he found himself behind bars…and it’s all thanks to the mobile app! Milford police in Michigan had a suspect fall right into their lap when the criminal stopped by the police station which was listed as a gym on the game. The man, William Wilcox, was using the game’s gym at the police station – completely disregarding the fact that he had an active warrant out for his arrest. Because the city has such a small population of under 6,500, police recognized Wilcox as their wanted suspect almost immediately. He was wanted for failure to appear on a breaking and entering charged, and was arrested on the spot. For other wanted individuals, the police chief suggests they don’t enter the station to play the game. He was quoted as saying, “Most of those characters will appear outside the building.” Too bad Wilcox didn’t get the memo.