“It’s very difficult to say, ‘I don’t have your phone,’ in any other way other than, ‘I don’t have your phone,’” the retiree tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s a hell of a problem… It would be nice to be able to get a good night’s sleep.”
The man has even had to affix a sign to the front of his house reading “NO LOST CELL PHONES!!” after being bothered at all hours of the day and night, including four visits from the police — twice to recover allegedly stolen phones and twice after being misdirected there for domestic disturbance calls.
Back in 2011, he says people mysteriously began approaching his house and demanding he return their phones. After the second incident, in which a woman scaled a wall on his property, he contacted Sprint to see what was going on.
He says the Sprint tech provided an explanation — that Sprint’s GPS system was somehow giving out his address as the location for people trying to track lost phones — but could not offer a solution for the problem.
The pop-ins from lost-phone hunters continued. And the police, while trying to respond to a 911 call made from a cellphone, were pointed to his address.
Then there was the night when four young guys woke the homeowner up at 2:30 a.m. demanding he turn over a lost phone. They were carrying a tablet, which was running an app that had pinpointed the location of the phone.
This was soon followed by an incident where he awoke at 4 a.m. to see someone skulking in his yard and flashlights shining through his window.
Once again, it was the police, who were trying to respond to a 911 call but had been sent to this man’s house instead of the actual location of the call.
A police rep tells the Review-Journal that officers are only going where Sprint tells them to.
“We’re relying on the accuracy of the information that’s given to us by the carrier,” she explains. “It’s just not a perfect technology.”
A Sprint spokeswoman tells the paper that it’s taking the problem seriously.
“We will research the issue thoroughly and try to get to the bottom of what is going on and if it has anything to do with our company,” she writes.
Experts in this sort of tracking technology tell the Review-Journal that the most likely source of the problem isn’t the Sprint cell tower, but its switchboard. They say that it could be a software that is incorrectly translating coordinates to the man’s house.
Meanwhile, the homeowner says all the door-knocks from angry Sprint customers has conditioned him to dread unexpected visitors.
“It’s like Pavlov’s response now,” he explains. “I dread the thought when I hear a car drive by that they’re going to be pulling in and knocking on my door.”