Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ Sends Dozens of Angry iUsers to Innocent Man’s Home
Apple's location-based Find My iPhone feature can be a life saver for folks who've lost their iDevices. But it has also proved to be a major problem for one Las Vegas man. Here's why.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
The idea behind Apple’s Find My iPhone phone-tracking feature is a noble one: If your iPhone or other iGadget is stolen, you can use another Apple device to locate your purloined gadget using the feature and the lost device’s GPS and/or cell-tower location technologies. Find My iPhone has helped countless Apple customers track down lost or stolen devices. But the feature isn’t perfect, and Las Vegas man Wayne Dobson is living proof.
During the past couple of years, dozens of pissed off Apple-devices owners have showed up at the 59-year-old Dobson’s front door demanding their lost or stolen gadgets and citing the Find My iPhone feature as proof that he has it, according to the The Las Vegas Journal-Review. The problem: Dobson is not a phone thief—at least not that we know of—but an issue with GPS and nearby cell-towers in the area is repeatedly sending Track My iPhone users to Dobson’s property.
“Two years ago Clark County zoning accidentally assigned a cell phone tower to Dobson’s home address. When someone searches for his or her missing phone in the GPS locator system, the ping pops up and sends them to Dobson’s porch.”
The problem reportedly affect only Sprint customers, but Las Vegas police officers also showed up at the man’s home on one occasion after receiving a 911 call from a person who couldn’t identify their own location. (Authorities tried to track the person’s location using their cell phone and they experienced the same issue.)
When multiple people showed up in the middle of the night over a few days’ time to search his property with flashlights, Dobson posted a sign outside his door that reads “No Lost Cell Phones!!” and briefly explains the misunderstanding. But the problem persists.
Sprint is apparently “researching the problem.” But Dobson is still getting visits from iPhone users and the Las Vegas police say they’ll continue to send officers to his home if their 911-location based services direct them there, so the man may not see an end to this Find-My-iPhone-fueled madness anytime soon.
The whole ordeal is enough to drive anybody mad—or at least enough to make you build a tall, possibly electrified fence, around your property.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.