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

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 …

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Anonymous Coward

Attention all fanbois

Please remember this news item before complaining about the police refusing to kick in doors after you have tracked down your lost / stolen iPhones and iPads to a random address.

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Meh

Re: Attention all fanbois

Hs anyone checked under his bed?

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FAIL

Re: Attention all fanbois

Didn't Apple go hunting for one of it's waylaid beta units and insisting it was at a place, when it wasn't?

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It could be worse

Just hope the next visitor isn't a lorry driver following a sat-nav that uses phone-based location to improve GPS accuracy.

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That poor bastard...

He should really ask Sprint for some compensation for the mental distress he's been put through over their mistake. I know I would.

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Re: That poor bastard...

Seeing as this chap lives in a country and a state where suing is popular, I'm a bit surprised he hasn't already got a lawyer involved.

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Coat

Re: That poor bastard...

Hey! Just because *some* Americans are overly litigious jerks doesn't mean we all are.

I mean I haven't filed a lawsuit for at least a week...

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Facepalm

2 years ? I'd have moved

Given how merkins love guns ...

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Re: 2 years ? I'd have moved

ummm, using a gun would be a rather strong response to people asking for their phones back. It is also remotely possible that he'd rather not spend the next 5 or 6 years behind bars for killing somebody. Of course, it's better to get nabbed for that than downloading a movie, but still.....

I'd move, but if he owns the house, he may not be able to sell it given the economy. I just had occasion to look up sales prices and rents in Las Vegas and it looks to be a rather cheap place to live these days. I found one web site that returned over 3,000 listings for homes under $100K. That's not a good sign if you want to sell what you have. Not that it isn't a great thing for me if the job comes through.

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Holmes

Re: 2 years ? I'd have moved

From TFA

About two weeks later he was awakened at 4 a.m. by a person prowling along the side of his house. Dobson followed a flashlight beam to his bathroom window. When he looked out, the person flashed the light in his face.

"I screamed at him, 'Who are you? Get out of my yard!' " Dobson said. "And he said, 'We're the police, open the door.' "

North Las Vegas cops had received a 911 call from a woman on a cellphone who was arguing with a man. The argument was escalating, but dispatchers weren't able to get a location from the woman.

They looked at the location of the phone and sent officers, who arrived minutes later at Dobson's house. He was taken outside to his front yard and searched. When officers realized the mistake, they apologized.

Dobson said he is grateful that he didn't confront the officers with a weapon.

"I would have been on the losing end, and it would have been because of that issue," he said.

Interesting anecdote, wouldn't you say?

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Stop

Re: 2 years ? I'd have moved

@MachDiamond: I think that what JimmyPage probably meant was not that he should get a gun, but that he should probably expect that some time in the future, someone armed with a gun, and angry because they believe that their (stolen) mobile is in his house might come round and demand it back, with menaces.

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Alert

Re: 2 years ? I'd have moved

I suspect from the tone of their reply MachDiamond is American. Which might explain it ....

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Coat

Sorted

Once the problem is confirmed as fixed from Sprint, he should start stealing phones!

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Re: Sorted

Vaguely recall a similar situation (probably reported in The Reg) where a SWAT team had a dummy name and address for their exercises that turned out to be the real name and/or address of an elderly couple who got their door kicked in several times. Ended up with their address being flagged in the police database as "they're innocent, leave them alone". Inviting the obvious suggestion that it was an excellent time to set up some kind of criminal enterprise.Or something like that...

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Re: Sorted

Found it! (I need to get out more). http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/19/police_raid_glitch/

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Trollface

Re: Sorted

"Once the problem is confirmed as fixed from Sprint, he should start stealing phones!"

He'd be better off stealing them NOW while he could use the argument that their location method is incorrectly pin-pointing him. Stealing them when the problem was fixed wouldn't offer him the same get out.

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Anonymous Coward

He should just shoot them.

They're on his land. That's a valid response, right? Someone knocks on your door by mistake, kill them.

Remember, guns don't kill people, 'phones do.

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Pint

Well, if you're in one of the states controlled by friends of the Koch(roach) brothers which has adopted ALEC's "Stand Your Ground" model law (i.e., Florida), just claim you were being threatened... Someone knocking on your door in the middle of the night IS a threat, right?

That's not beer in that glass, it's Chardonnay...Get me a WINE GLASS icon...

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"Remember, guns don't kill people, 'phones do"

Depends on if you install the NRA app on them - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/16/nra_release_game_app/

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The core issue

Are they using Apple Maps to do the tracking?

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Unhappy

It's only a matter of time...

It's only a matter of time before someone doesn't believe him and assaults him or kills him.

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Gimp

Also, a Brit's idea of an American is to an actual American as...

Cujo the Killer St. Bernard is to a cute little Australian Shepherd with a bandana around his neck.

We are all but delicate flowers, emitting sunbeams and happiness. No need to be afraid, British people! We Americans are FRIENDLY.

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Joke

Re: Also, a Brit's idea of an American is to an actual American as...

If I have the choice of being attacked by an Australian Shepherd or Cujo, I'll take Cujo over the shepherd every time, thanks. Those little bastards are more vicious than pit bulls!

As to what that tells me about Americans, the less said the better...! ;)

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Boffin

Say it with me, Euro-weenies:

"A Merkin is a pubic hair wig worn during the 1600's and 1700's to conceal syphilis-caused pubic baldness.

An AMERICAN is a chap from across the pond."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Say it with me, Euro-weenies:

Thank goodness you pointed that out, we had no idea.

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Re: Say it with me, Euro-weenies:

"Merkin" is the term for a wee bit of material used to hide the naughty bits of an actor (or actress). It's used for films that do not want an X rating but mostly so no footage is roaming around of said naughty bits. There will need to be a better term for those held within the borders of the People's Republic of America.

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Coat

Re: Say it with me, Euro-weenies:

What about septics ? Although I believe when they found out about that, they tried calling themselves "Shermans" ...

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Argh!

That "loft" thing isn't funny! I've seen CSI, and according to them infestations of loft-dwelling murderers are endemic to the L.V. area!

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Re: Argh!

That was an April fools joke. The area is actually infested with........... photographers. Next time I go, I'll try to get some photos of the billboards warning about them.

Cheek aside, there are billboards around town asking people to report suspicious activity and they have an image of somebody with a camera taking pictures. Complete waste of tax payers money. The town is flooded with tourists taking pictures and staggering around drunk (or worse).

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Facepalm

Yes they should compensate the poor chap by giving him a free phone and if it gets stolen at least he will know where to look first...

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FAIL

Cell ID locations

So, er, why doesn't this happen more often? All cellphone positioning systems, if they can't do a trilateration/OTD/timing/E911 type position and fall back to a CellID position, will be positioned at one common location for the cell they were most recently using, the so-called "centroid" of the cell tower transmitter's coverage area (most cell towers have 3 or 4 transmitters pointing away from the tower, these have distinct IDs, so the centroid is not right at the tower).

Might it be that this particular cell is faulty or unreliable at making the data connection or timing observations that are needed for the more accurate methods? So anyone on that cell always get a crappy CellID position in that poor dude's house? This, they should investigate and fix.

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Pint

The so-called "triangulation" algorithm is not as sophisticated as you might think

My iPhone uses cell phone tower "triangulation" for the short time before the alternate methods (wifi database, and then GPS) kick-in.

The so-called "triangulation" algorithm consistently picks the *exact same location* (never varies). This initial location fix appears to be some sort of very primitive mathematical average of the location three nearest cell towers. The algorithm obviously does not use signal strength - if it did, then one would expect some inevitable variation based on random conditions (seasonal, multi-path, you name it). The location never varies. It's a simple and stupid-as-a-tree-stump algorithm.

I suspect that if I built a house on that exact location, then I might find myself in the same sort of situation as Mr Dobson.

He has my sympathy. PS: I like the sign idea.

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IR

Mapquest did something similar to me back in the 90s. I put in a shop address, which turned out to be wrong (shop website was wrong). Since the address couldn't be found (I'm guessing, it didn't tell me so at the time), it gave me directions to the centre of zipcode, which happened to be a warehouse that got a few similar people like me in the past.

"Hi , I'm looking for this shop..."

"Used Mapquest? It's wrong. There's no shops anywhere near here."

I found the shop in a more traditional way - found a payphone, phoned them up, and got directions.

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