Pokémon Go features a Lure module, which attracts Pokémon to a Pokéstop location for a limited time, and other players are also more likely to go to that area to benefit from the effect.
Police sergeant Bill Stringer has warned users of the dangers of the lure element of the game in light of robberies that took advantage of this feature.
Four teenage robbers, aged between 16 and 18, lured unsuspecting victims into an isolated trap in Missouri. They were later arrested and were in possession of a handgun; the adult suspects have been charged with first degree robbery, a felony, and had bond set at $100,000 cash.
Stringer said, “Using the geolocation feature, the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.” A department spokesperson added, “you can add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”
Incidents such as these has led the department to issue a warning stating, “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.”
Meanwhile, a Boston nanny took to Twitter highlighting the power of these lures. She wrote, “I just put [a lure] down and all these kids came running out of their homes and around the corner to the Pokestop where I’d placed it.”
“Some of them had their parents. Some did not. I talked to one kid for a good twenty five minutes.” Her final tweet was a stark warning, “There’s a sense of camaraderie that is built up around this game. The kid I just played with definitely lost his stranger danger sense.”
Pokémon Go is certainly striking a chord with players and is resulting in some social encounters, as it was designed to. But some are using it for nefarious purposes, so when using the app, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and if you have a child you may need to supervise them or teach them about safety at the very least.