A northern Illinois man wanted for armed robbery was arrested this week while he was streaming on Facebook Live.
Police in Freeport, Illinois, were monitoring Facebook Monday, Jan. 8, when they came across a live video featuring Freeport resident, 18-year-old Jalen Anderson, the Rockford Register Star reported. What appeared to be a loaded gun and illegal drugs were also in the video, police say.
Investigators also learned that Anderson was wanted in another county for armed robbery. That’s when police pinpointed the location from which Anderson was livestreaming and paid him a visit.
When detectives arrived at the address in the 2500 block of Stephenson Circle, Anderson was still broadcasting to his followers.
With Anderson in custody, investigators executed a search warrant at the residence and uncovered a loaded semi-automatic handgun and Alprazolam pills.
Anderson was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a control substance with the intent to deliver.
Freeport Police Lt. Andrew Schroeder said his department monitors social media every day to gather information about suspected criminals. The open-source intelligence utilizes information freely shared by the public. And detectives spare none of it. They use anything they can find including information about gangs, drugs and other activity. Police can track smartphones, access social media accounts and triangulate investigations using everyday devices. That means a laptop is all an investigator may need.
Schroeder added that online tools used by police are not limited to any single social-media platform.
“It’s not just Facebook, but Twitter, YouTube and all kinds of things we’re monitoring for illegal activity,” Schroeder said.
In Anderson’s case, Schroeder said police noticed what could have be dangerous to the public, sparking an investigation that led to other information about the suspect. He said it is not the first time the Freeport Police were led to a wanted person via Facebook Live.
And the number of similar arrests is continuing to increase.
In Springfield, Illinois, two men were charged with a host of crimes when a video of them allegedly damaging a police vehicle was posted online.
Earlier this month in Chicago, a 23-year-old man was charged with more than 24 felonies after police gained access to a secret Facebook group as they investigated a drug and gun-running operation. The suspect was also wanted on outstanding charges.
In Oklahoma City last fall, a man who posted on Facebook that he would kill people in a way similar to the deadly Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead was charged with making a terrorist hoax.