Busted: Dad Discovers Daughter's House Party With His Energy-Monitoring Android App


Big father is watching.

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Can't Hardly Wait/Columbia Pictures

You're 16 and you've got the house to yourself and your dad is 500 miles away and it's New Year's Eve. Jackpot! It's the perfect combination for a huge party. Or so thought Amy Rowe in Adelaide, Australia, who informed her father she'd be staying at a friend's house and threw a rager. She wasn't counting on her dad's very advanced sleuthing skills.

Some 500 miles away, her dad, electronic engineer David Rowe, was having dinner with some friends and their kids. It was a hot day in southern Australia, and he decided to check in on his home's energy use on his Fluksometer energy monitor. He fired up the Android app and ...

Zut alors something was not right! Why would the air conditioning be on if no one was home? Why did it seem as though the lights were on?

Rowe muses, "I was fortunate to be at the restaurant with a couple of people expert in these situations. Teenagers." He consults them and they guess that a party is under way. He decides to call Amy to "see if she 'knew' anything about this phantom power problem."

Amy initially feigned ignorance, promising to go over to the house to check on the problem. Thirty minutes later she texted her dad to say she had found the air conditioning and TV on and had turned them off. Rowe watched remotely as the power use dropped in the house.

Upon returning home, Rowe found the physical evidence to corroborate his theory: "disposable cups with sticky red liquid in them in one of the bins, a trace of the same red sticky stuff on my sink, and post it notes accidentally left on my fridge saying things like 'Molly, you may have to open up another bottle.' "

Amy eventually fessed up, and it sounds like everyone involved got a good laugh out of the method of her undoing. Dad reports Amy's reaction:

"All my friends who didnt know Dad said 'How could he do that? Who measures power from across the country'? Those that did know Dad said 'He knows. Dont worry!' "

"When I realised we were busted there was a mass exodus. I was the last one out and could see a continuous line of teenagers stretched up the street over three blocks."

One of Amys friends put it well: "You gotta get dumber parents Amy."

Though Amy may be the first to have her party revealed by energy monitoring specifically, other modern technologies have wrecked the plans of others before her, perhaps most recently in the case of one massive Michigan party whose Facebook invitation reached the eyes of a few too many Michigan police. Additionally, police in England use heat-sensing cameras to spot large indoor marijuana-growing operations, though such investigative practices are unconstitutional in the United States without a warrant

Of course, such snooping tech isn't foolproof: Last year police raided a home in Bradford, England, only to discover a heater used to keep a 10-year old boy's guinea pigs warm during the colder months.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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