Since Pokemon GO launched last July, the game has been linked to numerous accidents and crimes. People have exploited the app to lure people into dangerous situations, and others have been distracted enough by it to wind up seriously injured. The latest incident related to Pokemon GO isn’t really the fault of someone distracted or people exploiting the game to hurt others, but one has to wonder if victim Rickey Yaneza would have been out at night in Central Park at all if it weren’t for the game.
Last night, at 12:30AM, Yaneza was playing Pokemon GO in Central Park, in an area of the park called Grand Army Plaza. The 43 year old Twitch streamer was hunting for a wild Snorlax that was said to be in the area, but had stopped to catch a Seaking that spawned. His attempt to capture the Seaking was unsuccessful, and just after he decided to give up, an unidentified assailant ran up and punched Yaneza in the face. The mugger then proceeded to take the three smartphones Yaneza was using to play the game and host his stream, then fled north.
There was little Twitch streamers could do but watch helplessly as the mugging took place. Those that kept watching the stream saw that the mugger eventually stopped and took the time to delete the content on Yaneza’s mobile devices. This tech savvy criminal was also wearing some sort of headgear, which Yaneza theorizes is an attempt by him to blend in with the Pokemon GO players roaming the park.
Luckily for Yaneza, there were a couple of people in the park that witnessed the assault and rushed to help him. With the help of these two individuals, Yaneza was able to contact the police and make it the hospital to have his injuries treated. Yaneza suffered from a swollen jaw, a bump on his head, and a scratch on his elbow as a result of the attack.
Not only was Yaneza assaulted and mugged last night, but to rub salt in the wound, his Twitch account was temporarily suspended as well. According to Yaneza, Twitch made the decision to suspend his account due to streaming “non-gaming content.” It’s unclear if this suspension is directly related to the footage of Yaneza being mugged, however.
Even with less people playing Pokemon GO, these incidents tied to the game persist. It will be interesting to see if Niantic takes any action in attempt to make the game safer, which could include discouraging play at night, or if there are no changes as a result of last night’s incident.
Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.