Glitch in Sprint’s GPS service points Find My iPhone users to innocent man’s house

By , Jan 15, 2013

find my iphone

Imagine you are awoken in the middle of the night by someone pounding loudly at your door. It’s a man and his girlfriend, and they’re upset because someone just stole her iPhone, and the Find My iPhone app led them straight to your house. Now imagine this is a regular occurrence.

Unfortunately for Wayne Dobson, he doesn’t have to imagine. Due to a glitch in Sprint’s location-tracking services, phone finding apps have been sending owners of missing iPhones and other handsets, as well as police, to Dobson’s home in North Las Vegas for the past two years…

The Las Vegas Review-Journal (via The Verge) reports:

“In the past two years the 59-year-old retiree has been pestered by people showing up at all hours of the day and night at his house, demanding their phones. They’ve yelled, shown him evidence, called the police – sworn that their phone is in his house…

…The problem appears to be limited to some owners of Sprint phones. Company officials said they are researching the problem, which has forced Dobson to sleep near his front door on weekends so he can answer the door quickly at all hours.

“It’s a hell of a problem,” he said. “It would be nice to be able to get a good night’s sleep.”

Dobson’s problems all began in 2011, when a couple knocked on his door around midnight one weekend. They were convinced that he had taken their phone, having been led directly to his house by their phone-finder app. But the 59-year-old had no idea what they were talking about.

The couple left without their phone, and he never heard from them again. But it wasn’t long before he realized he had a bigger problem on his hands. He has caught people in his backyard, looking in his window, and banging on his door — many of whom, as you’d guess, are pretty mad.

Dobson says he has contacted Sprint about the issue, and they say they’re working on it. But they have yet to determine the cause of the problem.

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  • http://twitter.com/Jack_maredit Jackson Grong

    Poor old guy

  • http://twitter.com/Alatoerka Alatoerka

    Lol! Here in the netherlands is it forbidden to use find my iphone to get in someones house.

    • Thomas

      It also is in the US. But Police in The Netherlands generally doesn’t accept Find my iPhone as evidence for theft and therefore they can’t get a search warrant. Or maybe it’s because the Dutch police are just too weak…. ;)

      • http://www.teqno-logical.com/ Teqno-Logical

        I don’t think the police can accept Find my iPhone as evidence anywhere, since it’s just an app and it has many bugs…

  • Jonathan

    What does sprint have to do with GPS or Find My iPhone?
    I can’t understand how sprint has anything to do with this?

    • MPD01605

      They’re (“mostly”, probably since he didn’t ask every single one of them) Sprint customers looking for their phone. Sprint acknowledged it was a problem. And it happens with 9-1-1 services:
      “On several occasions, police have shown up at Dobson’s home in response to 911 calls shown to originate from his residence.” Unknown if those people are also calling from iPhones or not. Signs point to a carrier issue.

      • Jonathan

        but I mean cellular networks have nothing to do with GPS or find my iPhone. Unless this article is miswritten and it’s to do with how location can be determined by cell towers, and actually the use of “GPS” in this article is wrong?

      • MPD01605

        Ah. Not sure. I’m reading through comments on the Verge and it looks like it might be Sprint’s own phone-finder program and stock programs. And it might not be solely iPhones. I know that when I’m at work, I can’t get a GPS signal and my phone’s reported location is around a mile or two away from where I actually am (there are big windows on the west side of my building so I pick up signal from towers to the west and none from any other direction). Could be happening here. If it can’t get a GPS lock it’ll try and use the towers I assume.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Schuster/1653840742 Ryan Schuster

        Actually most smart phones use something called aGPS which is GPS assisted by cell towers and wifi triangulation. It helps to speed up location lock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.liu.7503 Jonathan Liu

    OK…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony22318 Anthony Raymond Gurnari Jr.

    sprints connections thats why

  • Johnathan Jennings

    I’d put a sign on the door that read “I don’t have your iPhone, get the fuck off my property.”

    • Jonathan

      Because thiefs are the must trustworthy group of humans

  • christodouluke

    This guy could probably get away with stealing one or two iphones now

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    law suit

  • bigzjoseph

    Ppl if you loose your iphones just go online on icloud and delete everything on that iphone because you wont find the phone if it gets restored

  • twistedgamer

    Is it possible his place is the default center of the map? For instance look at someone on FB and the map pin is center of town if they only put a city?