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Bloke blasts Sprint for fingering his home as phone thieves' den

Welcome to Wayne's world: Multiple missing mobes mistakenly tracked

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Phones lost and stolen in Las Vegas are mistakenly telling their owners they're at the house of one Wayne Dobson, who's getting pretty angry at the late night demands and visits from the police.

We're indebted to the Las Vegas Review-Journal which tells us that Dobson's plight has been ongoing for two years. It follows what appears to be a flaw in Sprint's location database which points phones last seen nearby as being precisely in his house and prompted him to erect a sign outside his home.

NO LOST CELL PHONES!! This location gives a false "phone location" position due to a cell tower behind the house. Please contact the North Las Vegas police and file a report

In fact it's unlikely to be the tower causing the problem, which seems to be limited to phones on Sprint's network, so it's almost certainly down to an error in Sprint's database, but that's little consolation to Dobson who's had the desperate and the angry waking him up at all hours, begging, pleading and threatening in the hope of recovering their property.

But it's not just the public who come knocking. The police have been round four times; twice when victims refused to believe the technology could be faulty, and twice when responding to 911 (emergency) calls which came from a mobile reporting itself as being at the house.

Satellite location systems don't have problems like this, but sat-nav only tells the phone where it is, sharing that data requires an app to connected to some sort of reporting service. Without that the network operator can provide a rough location based on the cell tower and signal strength, and best guess is that all phones whose last connection was to the tower behind Wayne's house are claiming to still be on the premises.

Either that or there's a particularly cunning thief living in his loft.

Sprint is apparently looking into the problem, and a fix should be possible, but until then Dobson is sleeping by the door so callers don't get him too far out of bed, and offering what sympathy he can for their loss. ®

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