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Leave me alone! GPS glitch sends numerous owners of lost smartphones to Nevada man’s house

Nevada resident Wayne Dobson has had trouble getting a decent night’s sleep lately. It’s not because he has any particular worries on his mind, or that a noisy neighbor is keeping him awake. It’s because he keeps getting people knocking on his door demanding the return of their mobile phone.

Dobson’s woes are reportedly the result of a glitch with some handsets’ location-tracking software, which uses GPS and triangulation from mobile phone towers to determine the location of a missing device. In this particular case, it seems that the issue is related to a number of Sprint handsets. The company is said to be looking into the problem.

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According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, 59-year-old Dobson has been visited on numerous occasions over the last two years by people demanding he return their mobile phone.

“They’ve yelled, shown him evidence, called the police – sworn that their phone is in his house,” the Journal said. He’s even had the police on domestic violence calls mistakenly directed to his home.

“It’s a hell of a problem,” Dobson told the Journal this week. Indeed, the situation has become so serious that he’s posted a sign on his front door which reads, “No lost cell phones!”

Dobson said on one occasion a visitor searching for her phone became extremely agitated when he insisted he didn’t have her handset.

“I’ve got pictures of my grandchildren,” she told him. “I can’t replace them. I need them. All I want are my pictures.” According to the Journal, Dobson called the woman’s cell phone provider, Sprint. A technician reportedly explained the problem, but didn’t offer any solution at the time.

In December last year, Dobson decided that the situation had gone “from a nuisance to a danger” when four men banged on his door at 2.30am demanding the return of a handset. Another incident, also last month, involved a scary confrontation with someone prowling outside his home with a flashlight at four in the morning.

Location-tracking technology has proved a useful way for owners of mobile phones to locate their missing device – when it works properly. Last year there were several stories of how the Find My iPhone app led to the arrest of a number of criminals.

As for Dobson, the poor man must be going out of his mind. “It’s like Pavlov’s response now,” he told the Journal. “I dread the thought when I hear a car drive by that they’re going to be pulling in and knocking on my door.”

Hopefully the issue will soon be resolved, allowing Dobson to once again get a restful night’s sleep.

[via Computerworld] [Image: Jojje / Shutterstock]

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