Pokémon Go Crime?
If you haven’t heard by now, Pokémon Go, a geo-catching game played on a smart phone, has quickly become a phenomenon with over a million downloads in the United States since hit the market this month. Basically, gamers use their GPS to find and capture virtual creatures called Pokémon. So why is a criminal defense attorney writing about Pokémon Go? Well, when there’s a national craze, can crime be far behind?
In Missouri, four teens were arrested and charged with first-degree armed robbery after getting caught using Pokémon Go as a way to lure unsuspecting gamers to isolated areas where they were then robbed. The robbers “pokestopped” their targets—11 in all before the robbers were caught— and the victim thinking he or she was chasing after a Pokémon ended up being robbed at gunpoint instead.
Campus police at the University of Maryland reported a similar incident. Three students were robbed at gunpoint on the campus. While the suspect has not been arrested, the victims were playing Pokémon Go and it is believed that the robber was able to target the victims because they were on the Pokémon Go app.
Pokémon Go sends players on wild chases after the elusive Pokémon creature and there have been more than a few reports of Pokémon Go trespassers. Trespassing is a crime and police have literally warned players that “I was collecting Pokémon” is not a legal defense to trespassing. Law enforcement agencies across the country have seen a rise in trespassing and “suspicious activity” reports related to the proliferation of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. This can lead to tragic consequences as it almost did in Florida last week. Two teens playing Pokémon Go were mistaken for thieves by a Florida man who spotted the players outside of his house. The man took his gun and stepped in front of the teen’s vehicle. The players sped off while the man jumped out of the way firing shots at the vehicle. Thankfully, no one was injured.
Like all crazes, Pokémon Go will probably fade; I expect that to happen when the hot summer days and nights end. But until then, it seems the craze has just begun and there is plenty of opportunity to be the unwitting victim of a crime or to commit an unwitting crime while playing Pokémon Go. Before it’s all over, more Pokémon robberies or Pokémon trespassing are likely to be in the news.
Mr. Weinberg can’t help you play Pokémon Go but he can help you regarding any criminal matter. You can contact Mr. Weinberg at 949-474-8008 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.