When 10-month-old Wade Cochran was spirited away this month during a brazen car theft, authorities could have found him quickly through a global positioning system on a cell phone in the car. Sprint, the family’s cellular provider, wouldn’t immediately provide the location of the phone to Wade’s frantic parents or to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, says the Riverside (Ca.) Press-Enterprise. The story ended happily two hours later when sheriff’s deputies found the missing infant, unharmed and still buckled into the back seat of the car. Kathleen Dunleavy, a Sprint spokeswoman, said the company requires a subpoena or some other type of court order to divulge information to public safety agencies. Sprint can release the information only with the customer’s approval. “The point of (the policy) is to protect the customer. We protect our customers’ privacy above all else in these situations,” she said.
Jason and Stephanie Cochran pleaded with the company to track the car because their cell phone — equipped with a GPS chip — had been left inside. Sprint personnel told deputies that the Cochrans would have to sign a form and pay a $25 fee before the company could tell investigators where to find the phone. Stephanie Cochran said a detective told her: ‘You might want to consider changing your cell phone provider. They knew exactly where your car was, and wouldn’t release it to us,’ ” she said. “I just thought that was horrible.”