'Pokemon Go' a tool for thieves, police urge caution - WFSB 3 Connecticut

'Pokemon Go' a tool for thieves, police urge caution

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Since debuting last week, police said thieves are using a scavenger hunt smartphone game to target players.

The clash between fantasy and reality in Pokemon Go became a nightmare for some victims in Missouri after they were lured to locations using the app.

The users hoped to find pocket-sized monsters as part of the game so they can train and battle with them.

The game is using a feature called a "beacon" to attract multiple players to one location.

That's how police said some were robbed at gunpoint over the weekend. The teen suspects face armed robbery charges for stealing a phone and a wallet.

“Some clever criminals have apparently figured out that people might come to a deserted spot, maybe early or late at night, or early in the morning when there's not a lot of other people around," said Dan Ackerman, CNET section editor.

Even casual game players said they're often tempted to travel outside of their comfort zone in search of characters.

"On Friday, I went to a park at like 12 in the morning looking for Pokemon with four or five of my other friends," said Hamza Kahn, a Pokemon Go player.

It's part of a social media trend that's sweeping the country.

Pokemon Go has been downloaded on millions of smartphones since it debuted last week. It's already number one on Google Play and Apple's app store.

The mobile game is a virtual scavenger hunt where players find and catch Pokemon in their own neighborhoods.

Players have even gone so far as to gather in groups to play.

The app is credited for getting people off of their couches and outside. Many said they're grateful for a game that gets them off of their feet.

“It's a great way to be social, it's a great way to have fun [and] it's a great way to exercise," said Hunter Finan, a player.

In the next few days, folks may notice a lot more people looking down on their phones while swiping up; however, police are urging users to accompany children playing the game.

They also urge people to be careful about telling strangers their next location.

Nintendo released a statement on Sunday night.

"We encourage all people playing Pokémon Go to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places," the company said. "Please remember to be safe and alert at all times."

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