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This Week's AMBER Alerts Startle Cell Phone Owners

Cellphones along the West Coast lit up Wednesday and Thursday with an AMBER Alert for two missing California children. Authorities say the suspected abductor may be headed to Canada or Texas. The message was sent to thousands of cellphone users, many of whom didn’t know their phones had this capability.


Portlander Michael Montgomery was at home watching TV when he heard the high-pitched beeps.

“I thought at first it was some kind of alarm outside,” he said, “and then I got a second AMBER Alert and I got up and my phone was on the table, and I looked at it and I saw that I had the Amber Alert.”

The messages are part of the national Wireless Emergency Alerts program that began in January.

Most mobile users are automatically enrolled to receive alerts, though people can turn them on or off using their phone settings.

There have been several unconfirmed sightings of the car authorities are seeking, but no luck yet in finding the missing children.

Editor’s Note: If you have a smart phone, you can check with your provider to see how to receive alerts. On an iPhone, you can also look in your settings, then select notifications and look at the bottom for government notifications.

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