back to article GPS glitch leads perp-pursuing cops to wrong house

A man has been left with a £500 bill for a new front door after "tracking software" used to trace a stolen iPhone led Police to the wrong house. The missing iPhone was located using iOS' Find My iPhone feature, which can be used to find a device using its GPS fix. The handset is queried by a server and reports back its co- …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I do understand the plod not wanting to pay for scuffed wainscotting in a raided crack house, but if they cock things up there should be an appeal process in place to get reimbursed for damages.

    The rights of the police should never be greater than those of an innocent man.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Sue them

      ^^as above^^

    2. Oliver Mayes

      It's been a long time since the police were held accountable for any of their actions. One could piss through your letterbox and still somehow claim that it was 'pertinent to their enquiries'.

  2. GeorgeTuk

    I love the mindless belief

    that they shouldn't have to pay to replace a door they kicked in for no reason because they had reasonable belief it was in there.

    You make a mistake then you say sorry and try some repatriations. After all, he is not being unreasonable and you want people on your side.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I love the mindless belief

      By extension, the dickhead who drives up to the edge of the cliff and has to be rescued by the police should not be prosecuted by them as he had a reasonable belief the road lead to his destination.

      Well, as reasonable as the police did in blindly believing the iPhone GPS.

      And they wonder why people are suspicous of them and dont want to get involved.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Sherwood? The Sherrif of Nottingham?

    Mr Kerr wasn't renting to one R. Hood, by any chance?

    If so, it's probably found its way to someone poor by now!

    <-- The one in woodland green, obviously.

  4. Muckminded

    I have a feeling some version of Yakety Sax was playing in the police car while this was going on.

  5. disgruntled yank

    Questions. First, 500 pounds is the price of how many iPhones?

    And why did they need to break the door down? So the guy wouldn't flush the iPhone?

  6. David_H

    Other way round

    "Sorry for breaking into your car officer, but someone told me there were swine trapped in there, and you can't leave animals in a locked car" I don't think that excuse would work for the general public.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Other way round

      It might if you heard the swine thereby giving you reasonable belief. Otherwise I'd say you're gullible and fix my car.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: Re: Other way round

        well, given the number of dogs that die in police vehicles, I would certainly give any public-spirited citizen the benefit of the doubt, if they broke a window on a police car, believing "in good faith" there may have been a dying animal inside.

  7. Graham Marsden

    And the Police wonder...

    ... why they seem to be losing the respect of the general public...

  8. TonyHoyle


    I bet the phone *was* there, but the tenant/squatter had hoofed it as soon as he saw the rozzers.

  9. teebie

    I bet they spend more than £500 refusing to pay that £500

    Their excuse isn't even "we were right" or "our behaviour was acceptable under the circumstances", it's "we have a loophole that allows us to gte out of this"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I bet they spend more than £500 refusing to pay that £500

      But that would set a dangerous precedent - ie the use of common sense.

      There's no telling where that could end up.

  10. Christoph

    What kind of crime would you have to commit to get a fine of five hundred pounds? And that would be after a trial and the chance to prove your innocence.

    Next time the police are doing door-to-door enquiries round his area, I presume they will offer to pay him for any help or information he can give them and for his time in answering their questions?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My friends came back to their flat greeted with a smashed in door and police tape the only barrier between the apartment and the streets of St.Pauls in Bristol (rough area). The police had been looking for the previous occupant. Obviously they had been robbed after the act. There was no apology, compensation of liability forthcoming from the police and it took over a week to get the door repaired so they had to screw it shut to keep themselves and their toddler safe.

  12. GettinSadda

    Yet more proof that we are now living in a police state!

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Steve Evans


    There isn't actually any proof there was a GPS problem. The house was empty, so someone could have been there earlier, and the cops just took too long to turn up, carry out a health and safety study of the splinter risk, check everyone had the correct training to use the door ram, and then finally make entry.

    By this time the perp was probably in Lincolnshire.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happens in the US as well

    I was renting out my flat while I was working overseas and got a call at 3am NZ time from a neighbor to tell me that the police had smashed in the door of the flat looking for my tenant's ex-boyfriend. They didn't find him, so left. No attempt to secure the premises, notify me or the tenant (who was away at the time) or anything. I had to arrange for someone to come out and replace the door and change the locks - all done by me in the middle of the night via expensive cell phone calls.

    Submitted a claim to the police who basically told me the same thing - normal operating procedure, my fault for renting to someone who used to go out with someone who was alleged to be a crook, no they don't have to secure the promises, that's my responsibility, etc. Hundreds of dollars out of pocket, and lost a good tenant who was now scared to live there.

    Add me to the list of people who would now not even stop to piss on a cop who was on fire. They wonder why they have no support or respect from many members of the public - particularly those middle class, educated types who *used* to believe that the police were there to help and support them.

    1. Fatman

      Re: Happens in the US as well

      It most certainly does, like these poor bastards learned the hard way:

      Fortunately for them, no one was hurt.

      I remember from a long time ago, of some slob in a Chicago apartment building who was the "victim" of faulty information. This was back in the days when Chicago cops used "no knock" warrants at 3AM. This guy heard noise outside his apt door, and when the first cop bust through, he took several rounds. The fcuking DA tried to hang the resident for attempted murder of a LEO. Only when it was finally made public that the cops had the wrong apartment, did the DA back down.

      Like the poster above, I would consider it a complete waste of piss to put out a cop on fire.

  16. Dorobuta


    They failed to shoot his dog. Shooting the dog is customary when you raid the wrong house.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Newbs

      And seizing the computer and "discovering" kiddie porn on it...

  17. cs94njw

    Devil's Advocate

    I guess the issue is, if the police have to evaluate the cost of their action based on information, they may not take action.

    E.g. crook has a front door made out of diamonds or something. The police have a hunch someone is inside, but if they're wrong, that's a £1 million bill they're looking at. They've used a lot of their budget recently and basically can't take the risk.

    They don't break the door down.

    The government/prison service is reluctant to give compensation if they improperly imprison you. And if I heard correctly, they even send you a bill for the room and board the prison kindly gave you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Devil's Advocate

      They could break the door down, be wrong, apologise and make the place secure again.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they really get away with this?

    The cops out here have a carpenter on staff to replace doors they mistakenly kick in. There's no appeal process or paperwork the homeowner fills out. When they find out they've screwed up, LAPD apologizes immediately, and calls their cabinetmaker who heads out right away to start the repairs. It's really a simple concept. Maybe the cops should be educated in costs of hanging a door and repairing frames, so that somebody on their team could try to relate those costs versus the retail price of a fucking iPhone.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The cops out here have a carpenter on staff to replace doors they mistakenly kick in. "

    I really don't see that as a good thing.

    1. Marvin the Martian
      Thumb Up

      Re: "The cops out here have a carpenter on staff to replace doors they mistakenly kick in. "

      It's skilled trade jobs. Also, maybe a bootmaker for cops who mangle theirs in the process.

  20. Wombling_Free

    Consider how lucky you are

    I don't think the police down here (Austfailia), nice though they are, actually go chasing crooks over a single iPhone!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £500 to fix a damaged front door?


    1. cs94njw

      Re: £500 to fix a damaged front door?

      I suspect that's probably accurate. ~£300 for a modern metal door, perhaps some brickwork?, then add labour.

    2. Santa from Exeter

      Re: £500 to fix a damaged front door?

      Bloody cheap if it was double glazed!

  22. JimmyPage Silver badge

    As always, not quite the *full* story ...

    Where to start ?

    1) I presume the Home Office, or ACPO, or at the very least Nottinghamshire Police have tested and approved the use of "find my phone" as a valid operational tool in stolen iPhone cases ? I imagine they had documented proof that the iPad owner pointing them at the location was the genuine owner ?

    2) Since when would a single iPhone attract any police interest whatsoever - let alone the assignment of several officers ?

    3) The article is suspiciously vague, on whether a search warrant was issued. So vague, that I suspect one wasn't. I wonder where this leaves the police ?

    4) Is there a market now for a piece of software which intercepts the GPS stack, and replaces actual coordinates with imaginary ones ? I like the idea that my iPhone is always present at 10 Downing Street.

    In short, crap journalism, possible deliberate, to draw attention away from the real facts.

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