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Pokemon Go used to plan robberies, police say

Posted: 7:06 AM, Jul 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-11 14:30:20Z

Pokémon Go is getting a nation of smartphone users of all ages out and about in unprecedented ways.

Unfortunately, some people are using this phenomenon as an opportunity to plan and carry out criminal activity, according to police.

In O'Fallen, Missouri. police arrested four men on July 10 in connection with a string robbery tied to the popular app.

The suspects, including one juvenile, used their knowledge of the game to discover more secluded areas where players would go to to collect the prized Pokemon, wait for players to show up and then rob them, according to local police. 

The Pokémon Go app, which uses a smartphone's GPS to lead players in a scavenger hunt-type search to find digital Pokemon around town, has skyrocketed to the top of international app stores. According to data from SimilarWeb , within the first two days of its release, more than five percent of Android smartphone users downloaded the app and it is on its way to having more users than Twitter. 

The app's popularity leads police to thinking about potential criminal behavior in new ways, Sgt. Phil Hardin told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

"People really need to watch what they’re doing and make sure their kids understand where this game could lead them,” Hardin said. “Our concern is that some of the way points in this game are in geographically more dangerous areas than others. Other people are using the machinations of all this to put people in danger.”

Officials recommend playing Pokémon Go in daylight hours, avoid dangerous or remote locations and consider working in pairs or teams when traveling to unknown places.