Lost-Phone Apps Weirdly Keep Pointing to One House

The Atlanta couple who lives there is very confused
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2016 12:18 PM CST
Stolen Phones Keep Leading to Very Confused Atlanta Couple
Phone-tracking software keeps leading people to one home in suburban Atlanta. The people who live there want you to know they don't have your phone and they haven't seen your friend.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

People keep showing up at Christina Lee and Michael Saba's Atlanta-area home at all hours of the day and night looking for their stolen phones—or even missing people, Fusion reports. "Three young men came by, really frantic," Lee recounts one occasion to the BBC. "They were looking for someone who was missing. The minute Michael opened the door, they were like, 'Where is he?'" Apparently phone-tracking apps across various brands and service providers are leading to Saba and Lee's home, but no one knows why. According to Fusion, it's happened a dozen times in the past year, and Saba worries about things escalating. “My biggest fear is that someone dangerous or violent is going to visit our house because of this,” he says. “If or when that happens, I doubt our polite explanations are going to go very far.”

Saba and Lee are out of ideas, and—without being able to study the missing phones—experts are "stumped," Fusion reports. Experts think it could be a problem with cell tower triangulation, the couple's Wi-Fi router, or bad data within a third-party tracking app. ExtremeTech explains phones typically use Wi-Fi and cell signals to locate themselves while waiting on the slower GPS location. If GPS isn't available—for example, inside some buildings—the phone will stick with the location given by the last Wi-Fi signal it encountered or the three nearest cell towers. “It really drives home how unsafe and fallible some of this technological evidence is,” Saba tells Fusion. Until someone figures out how to fix the problem, ExtremeTech says the couple should maybe consider a “No, we don’t have your phone" sign. (This teen tracked his lost phone, then got shot dead.)

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