Snapchat Records May Help Edwardsville, Ill., Police Solve Armed Robbery Case

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires SnapChat to disclose certain information to police in response to legal processes.

by Kara Berg, Belleville News-Democrat / August 3, 2017
Shutterstock

(TNS) -- The Edwardsville Police Department wants SnapChat to turn over records that investigators believe could be crucial to an investigation of an armed robbery.

Two search warrants filed in Madison County ask for information from two SnapChat accounts, in hope that they’ll help investigators sort out the allegations in an armed robbery investigation.

The Edwardsville Police Department received a 911 call June 19 from Ihsaan Haqq, 19, who said $1,000 had just been taken from him at gunpoint by three subjects, according to the search warrant. Haqq said he knew two of the robbers, and identified them by their first names.

Haqq told police he had arranged to meet with a juvenile boy, identified in court documents only as M.D., at the Winston Brown Sports Complex to pay him $1,000 that Haqq owed M.D. for a prior vehicle crash. Two other people, 18-year-old Arnez McCorkle and another juvenile, identified as D.P., showed up at the sports complex as well. Haqq said McCorkle pointed a semiautomatic handgun at Haqq’s head, according to the search warrant, then took the money from Haqq’s backpack and fled the scene.

A different story came out once police started speaking to those involved, however.

M.D. told police he had set up the meeting with Haqq to buy $1,000 worth of cannabis from Haaq, and had used SnapChat to coordinate the meeting. M.D. said he sent Haqq a SnapChat video of himself counting the money to prove he had it, and Haqq allegedly did the same with the cannabis, according to the search warrant.

In a later meeting with police, Haqq told them he had met M.D. to sell him half a pound of cannabis, and when he got there, all three teens allegedly pulled a gun on him and took the cannabis from his bag.

Police sought the search warrants to look at both M.D.’s and Haqq’s SnapChats. They requested various information, including records of chats between the two.

SnapChat has a written policy online detailing what they provide to law enforcement officers from the app. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires SnapChat disclose certain information to police in response to legal processes. The act authorizes law enforcement to obtain basic subscriber information, non-content account information and account content. The content only shows metadata, not what the actual content of the Snap was.

In certain circumstances, SnapChat can retrieve the content of sent SnapChats, according to the policy. Once all recipients have viewed it, each Snap is deleted from servers. When the Snap or chat remains unopened, it’s deleted 30 days after it’s sent. Story content is available for up to 24 hours, or until it’s deleted. Memory content may be available until it’s deleted by the user.

SnapChat will usually notify users if law enforcement requests information from their accounts.

©2017 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.