Nottingham landlord reports police after raid to find stolen iPhone
A LANDLORD says he is disgusted after police smashed down the door of his house looking for a burglar – after receiving information from an iPad app.
The victim of the burglary had his iPhone stolen, but had software on his iPad that used satellite technology to trace his stolen phone.
It pinpointed the phone to the house in Rufford Road, Sherwood. But when officers broke in they found no trace of it or the burglar.
Landlord Robert Kerr, who says he has been left with a bill of nearly £500 for a new door, said: "How accurate are these trackers? I'm unsure whether they can pinpoint a phone to a specific house.
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"The victim of the burglary has almost made me a victim by saying the phone was in my house when it was not."
Mr Kerr, who is renovating the Rufford Road property but lives in nearby Newstead Street, said: "I feel utterly disgusted with the police. I don't feel they did enough research before they broke in.
"I understand that they thought the stolen phone was in the property and so I understand why they broke in.
"But what I don't understand or accept is the refusal to pay for the damage done – especially since nothing was found in the house."
He has written to police to complain about the incident, which happened in the early hours of December 7, but received a letter from a force solicitor saying he will not be receiving compensation.
The letter said: "The iPad showed the location of the iPhone inside your property in Rufford Road.
"Officers reasonably believed the offender was hiding inside the property with the stolen iPhone."
Mr Kerr has now written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
A spokesperson for the IPCC said: "On Thursday, February 23, the IPCC received a complaint and, as is required under the Police Reform Act, the IPCC is seeking the complainant's consent to forward it to the Nottinghamshire Police Service for consideration.
"The complainant has the right of appeal following the outcome if he is not content with the investigation."
Police say they are not liable for the cost of the door because they "reasonably believed" an offender to be in the house.
A Notts Police spokesman said: "Our legal services department has reviewed this matter and written to Mr Kerr to explain why compensation is not payable in this instance.
"Our officers took the decision to search the property in Rufford Road in good faith with the intention of quickly locating an offender and recovering stolen items from a burglary reported in Woodthorpe on the afternoon of December 6.
"However, that decision was not simply made on the basis of iPhone tracker information but was taken after speaking to local residents who informed officers that they believed someone had been at the usually unoccupied property in Rufford Road that evening."
Section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives officers the power to enter and search premises for the purposes of arresting someone.
It also adds that compensation for damage caused when entering the property is 'unlikely to be appropriate' if the search was reasonable and proportionate, and necessary to effect entry.
Ahmad Lofti, reader in Computational Intelligence in the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, explained how iPhone tracking apps work.
He said: "Tracking apps use a mixture of GPS (satellite signal which is also used for sat navs), Wi-Fi data, and mobile phone mast data to locate the phone.
"The iPhone owner links up the iPhone to their iPad and then if lost or stolen, can bring up a map on the iPad to show the location of the iPhone.
"The apps' accuracy can be impressive. In an urban area the range is roughly 50m. But it cannot pinpoint an iPhone to a specific address in a built up neighbourhood.
"Factors such as thick concrete walls, rainy weather and loft insulation can confuse the signal and make it less accurate."
Notts Police say they have exhausted all lines of inquiry in relation to the burglary, no arrests have been made and the investigation remains open.