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The order was placed from an unsavory part of town in Newport, R.I. The eyes of the driver delivering the pizza were sweeping from side to side as he drove down the dark street, his knuckles gripping the wheel a bit tighter than usual. The roof of his car was adorned with the pizza company's roof topper. He knew it made his car stand out. He was very aware that several deliveries to this particular area resulted in armed robberies, the latest in which the driver was assaulted. He quickly glanced at the house address on the order slip, then in the mirror, and again side to side. The house was just ahead.

The driver had an eerie feeling as he pulled in front of the house. Two guys walked up to his car rather menacingly, flashed a gun – and announced the robbery. This time, however, the robbery was not successful. The driver was well trained and prepared to react to the situation.

The driver and the two individuals hiding in the back seat were undercover police, much to the surprise of the two suspects. Police cars converged on the scene from every direction. The two robbers were taken into custody without incident.

The sting was set up in cooperation with the pizza company after several robberies occurred during deliveries to the same area. With a pre-arranged plan when the next deliver order came from that area, the police were notified and took over. Both subjects were charged not only with this robbery, but others as well.

Although this story refers to one, specific incident in Rhode Island, delivery drivers frequently run into dangerous situations.

Crime statistics show that several pizza delivery drivers are robbed every day. The robberies occur in small rural areas as well as the large metropolitan cities. The crime is an industry concern, but steps can be taken to lessen the risk.

The delivery area should be assessed for potential crime issues based on police reports, anecdotal information, and assessing risk.

To help in determining restrictions of delivery in your area due to the threat of robbery and other crime, a future article will be published on how to make those decisions based on the best information available.

Tips for delivery drivers

  • Delivery drivers should not carry more than $20 in cash or wear expensive jewelry.
  • Reconsider using roof toppers if drivers are being targeted.
  • Do NOT attempt to make a delivery to a darkened or vacant house, apartment or any place that has suspicious activity.
  • Do NOT get out of the car. Drive past, and do a callback insisting a light be turned on.
  • Use callbacks to verify the order.Never enter the customer's home.Be suspicious of pedestrians when you drive up to the house.
  • When you are on foot, avoid anyone walking toward you.Always keep your car doors locked and windows up.
  • Park as close as you can to the customer's door.When possible, park within sight of your vehicle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep your cell phone handy.Never chase or resist a robber.If you observe suspicious activity, call the police.Keep records of times, locations, robber descriptions of every robbery incident.Communicate incidences with other local businesses delivering food to same areas.
  • Cross reference phone numbers with addresses. When unmatched, call back for verification.If the call back number is "private" or "blocked" consider if deliveries have been made to the address in the past, time of day, area to be delivered, and "gut feel" on the call.

The primary goals in offering delivery are to offer convenience to your customer and build sales. Unfortunately there are risks attached to this service. Following security and safety practices and training your staff can help to eliminate and mitigate the associated dangers of delivery.

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D. B. "Libby" Libhart
D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
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