TechWeb

Phone Tracking Tool Leads Authorities to Wrong Home, Constantly

Jan 15, 2013 (09:01 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240146334


59-year-old Wayne Dobson has the unfortunate pleasure of being the victim of a strange glitch that leads people with missing cellular phones straight to his home in North Vegas.

He's visited by angry cellphone owners who have lost their handsets. They yell at him, threaten him with calls to the authorities, and do just about anything else to prove that their phone is in his home.

But that's never the case.

Even police have been misled by the tracking tool. They've reportedly gone to his house twice on calls for domestic violence.

However, Dobson is not the culprit. This glitch seems to be a problem for Sprint customers, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

It's become such a problem for Dobson that he has to sleep near the front door of his home just to answer the door quickly. It's also made it difficult for him to get proper sleep.

He's gone to the extent of putting a sign outside his door that reads, "No lost cell phones!!" in bold, capital letters.

This has been an issue for at least two years, with the first such incident happening in 2011. Eventually, these people realize that he is not the thief, and they are on their way. This usually doesn't happen without a call to the police. The apparent problem is that cellular GPS systems are approximate. They tend to use assisted GPS. This combines the GPS systems we are used to with our navigation systems, and triangulates a signal between cellular towers that are close. Sprint's estimate just so happens to be right on his house.

The situation is more than an annoyance factor. It can even be dangerous for Dobson. Sprint says they are looking into the issue. For Dobson, a fix couldn't come soon enough.

Tip of the hat to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.