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Home » Criminal Law » Potentially Risky Situation Turns into Heroic Act from Marines Thanks to Pokemon Go!

Potentially Risky Situation Turns into Heroic Act from Marines Thanks to Pokemon Go!

playing pokemon go in front of a muggerOn July 6, 2016, the world as we know it changed. Rogue bands of youths appeared on the streets in force, staring at their smartphone screens like they’d finally assimilated into the Mother Server.

Pretty much every demographic is, to some degree, obsessed with their smartphones. Parents tell kids to put them down at dinner, only to find themselves tapping away at a Facebook notification a couple of minutes later. But this is a new addiction — this is Pokemon Go.

Heard of it? Probably. Pokemon Go is all over the news, and not just because playing it is a hypnotic process. It’s a smartphone app (free of charge) that allows players to catch monsters from the infamous Pokemon franchise in their day to day lives. Wikipedia calls it a “free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game.” Which is a mouthful.

Basically, tons of Pokemon fans are running around America with their phones out, trying to catch Pokemon. There are different monsters based on terrain and geographical location, which explains the aimless wandering. Players have to actually find the Pokemon. In many respects, this is incredible. People who would otherwise be spending their days inside with the shades drawn are all of a sudden out in the sun, getting exercise and maybe even tans. As far as public health goes, Pokemon Go deserves a fat slice of appreciation.

However… That doesn’t mean this new supplement to modern culture is all cupcakes and rainbows. Since so many people are playing the game all across the nation, new headlines are popping up everyday describing bizarre and tragic incidents happening to the countless people jumping in on the Pokemon Go craze.

It’s a whole new world out there…

Every time Pokemon Go players open the app on their phones, they’re administered a sensible warning from the developers to watch their asses. No, they don’t really use the a-word, but maybe they should because people are getting into trouble in spite of The Pokemon Company and Niantics’ sound advice:

pokemon go warning

I mean think about it! People are walking around with expensive smartphones, staring at screens that lead them into or through strange and often sketchy places, while completely and totally distracted. To top it all off, it’s very obvious what Pokemon Go players are doing and the concept is quickly becoming as ubiquitous as Pokemon themselves.

What I’m getting at is: Pokemon Go is a gift to many types of people, and one of those types is criminals.

For example, a mugger could download Pokemon Go (for free). There are geo-located landmarks in the game that correspond to real, actual places. These are called Pokestops. If our hypothetical mugger played the game for a bit, he or she’d quickly find themselves in possession of an item that “lights up” Pokestops. Lit-up Pokestops lure Pokemon to the area — while also letting every player in the area know.

It’s already happened on more than one occasion. Muggers light up Pokestops, wait for distracted people with expensive smartphones and probably wallets, then mug them. As far as mugging targets go, Pokemon Go players are obvious, easy, and profitable.

Fortune listed off some of the notable incidents:

On Tuesday, college students playing the game in Maryland were the victims of an armed robbery.

On Monday, a gang of Pokemon Go players in Florida found themselves ducking for cover on the sidewalk after someone drove by in a car and threw fireworks at them. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

Last Friday, a Wyoming teenager was hunting Pokemon by the Big Wind River and stumbled upon a corpse. Not the same kind of crime, but still creepy. And not something that’s terribly pleasant to find.

Cops and Creeps

It’s not all so bad, though!

Law enforcement has also seen some benefits from the mass exodus of Pokemon Lovers to the streets. Like on Tuesday, when two Marine vets playing Pokemon Go in California wound up helping the cops find the suspect of an attempted murder.

Javier Soch and Seth Ortega both served in the Marine Corps and currently share lodging in Placentia, California. The two decided to spend their day searching for Pokemon in downtown Fullerton, a quest that eventually led them to a street corner, at which point Soch’s smartphone froze. He looked up, as suggested by the Pokemon Go loading screen warning, and noticed a mother with three sons getting bothered by an oddly-dressed man holding a fake flower.

Soch and Ortega walked up to the guy, who told them he was on the hunt for a place to sleep and asked if he could bum some cigarettes. They had no smokes, but directed him towward the police station where they told him he’d find help. This seemed to be of no interest to the strange man, who then wandered off only to approach a new group walking by: another mother with two sons.

The man exchanged a few brief words with the mother and the family moved on. However, as they walked off, the man reached down to stroke the shoulders or chest of one of the kids — apparently unbeknownst to his mom. Soch, however, did notice, and decided to keep an eye on the guy.

They followed him to the park, where the mother and two sons had gone. When the man once again approached one of the kids, this time grabbing his foot and touching his leg, the marines snapped into action. Ortega intervened and escorted the man away while Soch remained behind with the family.

And thus a potentially nasty situation was quickly deescalated. The police arrived and identified the man as Jacob Kells. After arresting the 39-year-old for suspected child annoyance, the police soon discovered that Kells was wanted in Monterey County for attempted murder, on top of possessing a stolen car and attacking an officer of the law. “It did not get violent in any way,” according to Seth Ortega.

Playing it safe:

Strange as it might be, Pokemon Go does appear to be having a substantial effect on society as we know it. It’s bring people together, putting more humans on the streets, and encouraging situations that would otherwise be unlikely. While nobody can say what the future holds for this latest trend, one thing is certain: with Pokemon Go, the rule of “safety first” very much applies.
At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our team of attorneys has years of experience working with clients across a wide range of cases, including those related to criminal law. Whether you’re the victim of an assault, a robbery, or anything other crime, it’s crucial that you take the necessary steps toward ensuring a satisfactory resolution. The first step is always to hire a lawyer you trust — so don’t wait! Call today, or go online to set up your free initial consultation, and meet with a skilled attorney who’s ready and waiting to get you on track toward the justice you deserve.

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