These days, smartphones have become an extension of ourselves. Many of us can’t even go a few hours without a smartphones attached to our hip, so it stands to reason that a lost smartphone is enough to send someone over the edge. Luckily, smartphones running popular operating systems like Android and iOS have built-in apps that make it easy to locate a lost or stolen smartphone. And wouldn’t you know it, people actually take advantage of the features to track down their lost digital appendages.
However, one Atlanta couple’s home has become an unwanted destination for people looking for their lost smartphones. And as you would imagine (for someone who thinks that their stolen smartphone is at the premises), the people who show up at their doorsteps often aren’t very friendly and sometimes bring the police along with them.
Christina Lee and Michael Saba say that they have been confronted over a dozen times since February 2015 by people looking for their smartphones. But must to the dismay of the people looking to be reunited with their digital wonders, they aren’t actually in the house — that’s because “Find My Phone” apps from Apple and Google are erroneously pinpointing Lee and Saba’s home as the final resting place for stolen smartphones.
“My biggest fear is that someone dangerous or violent is going to visit our house because of this,” said Saba in an email exchange with Fusion. “If or when that happens, I doubt our polite explanations are gonna go very far.”
Lee and Saba has been verbally berated by strangers at all hours of the day and night and even detained by police — on their own property while “official police business” was being conducted to recover lost smartphones.
“Your house is a crime scene and you two are persons of interest,” Saba added.
What makes this situation even more puzzling is that no one knows exactly why this is happening. There’s is no discernible pattern to the madness, as both iOS and Android users have come to the Atlanta home looking for their smartphones. And we can’t chalk it up to a wireless carrier malady, as the big four wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) have all been caught up in this wackiness.
One researcher reckons that Lee and Saba are victims of faulty cellular tower triangulation, while another suggests that flawed Wi-Fi map data may be causing the problems. Whatever the cause, a fix cannot come soon enough. Unfortunately for Lee and Saba, no one from Google or Apple has been able to help resolve the issue (or even return calls/emails) and the wireless carriers have been completely useless as well. Even calls to the FCC have fallen on deaf ears.
So the couple is still left waiting, hoping that the next ring of the doorbell isn’t from another irate person demanding that their smartphone be handed over immediately.