Pokémon Go Helping Criminals and Law Enforcement
Every so often, a new fad or cultural phenomenon will take the world by storm. Suddenly, everybody is interested in a particular person, music, movie, or other form of engagement. Right now, we are in the midst of one largest such events the gaming world has ever seen. Earlier this month, the augmented-reality game Pokémon Go was released, and, almost immediately, users were hitting the streets trying “catch ‘em all.” The record-breaking popularity of Pokémon Go—it recently doubled Facebook’s number of active daily users—has, as you might expect, created opportunities for criminals to prey on unsuspecting players, with assaults, robberies and other violent crimes having been reported. However, there have also been stories about the game providing assistance to law enforcement efforts.
Get Up and Go
The creators of Pokémon Go designed the game to reward players for physical activity. The app requires users to walk, jog, or bike around their communities, seeking out new creatures and collecting needed items. The gameplay interface uses a smartphone’s GPS signal to guide users through the streets of their town, while “catching” a Pokémon overlays an animated creature on the image captured by the device’s camera in real time.
The game’s unique design requires players to focus their attention on their devices, making them somewhat unaware of what is going on around them. Unfortunately, there have been a number of reports of players falling victim to criminal activity. Four teenagers in Missouri were arrested on the suspicion that they used a Pokéstop—an in-game location that provides helpful items—to attract and rob victims. In Maryland, college students were robbed by an armed suspect while playing the game. A pair of men in California say they were carjacked and robbed by an armed assailant. Such developments have led to numerous admonitions from the game developers and local officials to avoid playing the game in dangerous areas and to never be wandering around alone.
Doing Their Part
Pokémon Go players have also been credited with aiding law enforcement in tracking down wanted suspects and preventing crimes. Users in Fullerton, California, were credited with helping police catch an attempted murder suspect. Police say the man was seen by Pokémon Go players as he followed women and was attempting to touch children inappropriately. The players alerted police and engaged the man, keeping his attention occupied until officers arrived on the scene.
As with any cultural phenomenon, Pokémon Go cannot really be considered inherently good, bad, safe, or dangerous. It all depends on how individuals use the game or exploit the situation. If you have been accused of a crime in connection with Pokémon Go, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney for assistance. Call 814-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.