Robberies of pizza delivery drivers are a serious and growing problem in many cities in the United States. Much like the extremely high risk of robberies that taxi drivers and late-night convenience store workers face, pizza delivery persons are being robbed in ever increasing numbers these days. The problem has now grown to the point that there is scarcely a day that goes by without at least one pizza delivery driver being robbed somewhere in this nation.
The problem can be attributed to several factors including the fact that pizza delivery drivers are usually alone and they make deliveries to unknown areas late at night. Both are factors that make them easy targets for would-be bandits. Delivery drivers also usually carry at least enough cash to make change for a $20, and sometimes much more. It does not take a master criminal to call in an after-dark delivery at a vacant house and ambush the driver when he arrives. The thieves can count on getting away with a few pizzas and some cash at the very least.
It is not cost effective to have delivery drivers' work in pairs, since it's a job that will usually only support one person at a time. Most delivery drivers don't have permits to carry weapons of their own and who wants to get into a life and death gun battle over $20 anyway? Better just to hand over the pizza and the cash, but many robberies take a violent turn and it is not uncommon for drivers to get shot, stabbed or beaten in the process of getting robbed. Pizza delivery can be a good job, but it is definitely not worth losing your life over. It might be different if pizzerias could afford to equip every urban delivery driver with an armored van that resembled something the A-Team might have used, but that approach is obviously cost prohibitive in the real world.
One area of the country that has seen a big jump in robberies of pizza delivery drivers is Dayton, Ohio, where there have been 17 armed robberies and five unarmed robberies of pizza drivers so far this year. As a result, the Dayton Police Department has begun a new campaign to put a halt to robbers targeting pizza delivery drivers in that city.
The Dayton Police held a training session for 60 local pizza delivery drivers where they were briefed on the situation in Dayton and given a list of all the houses that are currently vacant in the city. The police also furnished lists of suspicious phone numbers that have been previously associated with robberies in the city, and strategies of action to utilize when a delivery situation just doesn't seem to feel right. The campaign also employed teams of detectives and patrol officers cruising known robbery hot spots. The officers worked in unmarked patrol cars to monitor any suspicious activity late at night and into the early morning hours.
How many crimes the new campaign will prevent will be hard to measure, but it did not take long for the Dayton Police to get some results. The plan seems to be working as evidenced by a recent late-night shootout and arrest of a would-be pizza delivery robber. A sharp-eyed pizzeria employee noticed that a delivery order came from a phone number that police said had been connected with a previous pizza robbery and a sting was set up with a police officer posing as deliveryman. During the attempted delivery a lone gunman opened fire on the masquerading officer and then fled while continuing to fire at other officers present, who immediately returned fire. The robber survived several gunshot wounds and was later arrested at a local hospital. The police officers were unhurt and the real pizza delivery driver was unhurt as well.
The Dayton plan seems to be working as designed and more positive cooperation on the part of local police and pizza delivery drivers in every American urban area would probably not be a bad idea. If delivery driver robbery is a growing problem in your own town, talk to your Police Department to see if you can implement something similar in your area.