As players of the new Pokémon GO game searched for Jigglypuffs over the weekend they came upon unexpected discoveries including robbers and a dead body as virtual reality met the cold, hard real world.
Four teenagers in Missouri robbed people playing Pokémon GO Sunday by placing “beacons” in the game and luring people to specific locations and then robbing them. Police said the teenagers stole a wallet and a phone. Authorities found a gun in a car used by the teenage robbers. The teenagers, between the ages of 16 and 18, were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, local media reported Monday.
Pokémon GO is a new, popular free mobile augmented reality game based on geo-caching where players look for Pokémon in their local areas and surrounding neighborhoods using their smart phones. The game requires players to get outside and explore, unlike with the original videogame. To collect Pokémon, players must find them using their smartphone cameras. The popularity of the game has sent shares of Nintendo Co. soaring on hopes of increased earnings.
The case in Missouri wasn’t the only one where players of the game have stumbled on something other than a colorful virtual character like Pikachu. Police in Nebraska reported via social media that they were dealing with their first robbery case related to the game late Sunday, the Washington Post reported.
With Pokémon located in many places, players are going off the beaten path. That led to a grim discovery in Riverton, Wyoming, Friday when a player hopped a fence and found a dead body.
“I was trying to get a Pokémon from a natural water resource. I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water,” Shayla Wiggins told local media. “I had to take a second look and I realized it was a body.”
Authorities and players across the U.S. and world have reported Pokémon GO related injuries while playing the game with people engrossed in their phone screens.