Archive for Sunday, January 29, 2006

Delivery thefts become violent

Pizza shop manager concerned by recent beatings, robberies

January 29, 2006


His drivers carry a few pizzas and not a lot of money.

That's the main reason Jeff Morris, manager of Pizza Shuttle, is concerned and puzzled about a type of violent crime that's been happening recently in the Lawrence area: the beating and robbing of pizza-delivery drivers.

"What really gets me is they're usually getting between 20 and 40 bucks for assault, battery, armed robbery. I just can't believe it's worth it," Morris said. "In the first 10, 12 years I worked here, we had probably seven robberies, and no one got hurt. In the past three years we've had five, and three of them were assaulted."

An emerging crime trend? Probably not, said Sgt. Dan Ward, Lawrence Police spokesman.

"In my 19 years here, we have worked pizza delivery-driver robberies," Ward said. "This is not a new crime."

Chris Moore, a student at Haskell Indian Nations University, gets ready to make a delivery for Pizza Shuttle. Jeff Morris, manager of Pizza Shuttle, is concerned about violent attacks on his company's delivery drivers.

Chris Moore, a student at Haskell Indian Nations University, gets ready to make a delivery for Pizza Shuttle. Jeff Morris, manager of Pizza Shuttle, is concerned about violent attacks on his company's delivery drivers.

But through the years it has proven to be a persistent problem, especially for Morris, whose drivers have been disproportionately targeted by robbers in recent years.

A few years ago, his business, 1601 W. 23rd St., stopped taking delivery calls from pay phones, and he always instructs drivers to keep going if they arrive at a location and don't feel safe.

The phenomenon took a new twist in the past year when it was documented - some might say glorified - in a popular song by the hip-hop group Dead Prez. The song, "Hell Yeah (Pimp the System)," received occasional airplay in the past year on college stations such as KJHK 90.7 FM.

"Got two or three dollars to my name/and my homies in the same boat going through the same thing :

We're gonna order take-out when they send the driver/ all you do is stick your .25 up in his face. : We roll up quick and put the pistol to his nose."

Chris, a Pizza Shuttle driver who asked not to be identified by his full name, was surprised but not offended to learn of the song.

Jeff Morris, manager of Pizza Shuttle, is concerned about recent attacks on the company's delivery drivers. A popular song by the hip-hop group Dead Prez documents similar attacks on delivery drivers.

Jeff Morris, manager of Pizza Shuttle, is concerned about recent attacks on the company's delivery drivers. A popular song by the hip-hop group Dead Prez documents similar attacks on delivery drivers.

"That's incredible," he said. "It doesn't matter. It doesn't offend me that that song is out there if people are dumb enough to listen to it. : You can sing about anything you want."

Chris was delivering a pizza in daylight last month to an apartment in the 2500 block of Redbud Lane when he was attacked by two men and robbed of $38.

He said the only warning sign was that the person who answered the door wasn't friendly. After the customer took the pizzas, another person jumped out from behind the door, grabbed him and threw him to the ground. He was kicked and beaten.

The case remains under investigation.

"Worse things have happened to other people in this town. They're just stupid kids," he said. "To tell you the truth, I knew I probably wasn't going to get a tip anyway."

Recent pizza-delivery robberies

¢ December 2002: A Domino's Pizza driver is held up at gunpoint while delivering pizzas in the 4500 block of Overland Drive. ¢ September 2004: Three Lawrence men are arrested and charged with committing two robberies in one week by luring Pizza Shuttle drivers to vacant homes in southwest Lawrence. ¢ Jan. 13, 2005: A Tonganoxie pizza-delivery driver is robbed and beaten with a pipe shortly after 7 p.m. on his first day on the job. ¢ Dec. 13, 2005: A Pizza Shuttle driver is robbed, kicked and beaten in the 2500 block of Redbud Lane.


Nikki May 12 years, 3 months ago

If he didn't want to have his last name in there, why did they put it under his picture? That makes no logical sense.

I suppose they could be on crack, but there is no way to prove that.

audvisartist 12 years, 3 months ago

The delivery guys should just start packing heat.

irnmadn88 12 years, 3 months ago

Given the number of deliveries in a given day, week, month, year, etc...the percentage of crime is low.

Jeanne Cunningham 12 years, 3 months ago

It's unfortunate that the picture is of another driver named "Chris". However, he is NOT the same "Chris" who was robbed.

Jamesaust 12 years, 3 months ago

DA Branson - what would be difficult to prosecute in the Redbud Lane incident mentioned above?

Confrontation 12 years, 3 months ago

This is horrible for those who do this work. These idiot criminals need to be locked up for life, rather than receiving the usual probation. I'd love to see DA Branson do this job for a few nights.

The_Voice_of_Reason 12 years, 3 months ago

Thank YOU Marion!! I work for Pizza Shuttle as a delivrey driver, and have for almost three years now. Marion is right food delivery of any kind is one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. I drive (on avg.) 3000miles A MONTH, sometimes more. thats an oil change every 4 to 5 weeks that is also paid for by the driver. And everyone knows how dangerous driving on a normal day can be but throw in the heavy traffiic and friday or sat. night drunk game of bumper cars and you got a tricky situtation. Now lets say you get safely to your stop, your now walking up to someone's house who you don't know at what ever of time at night or day it might be, with food and some cash on you. And it doesn't even really matter the part of town, we have had guys rob in crapy parts and in really nice parts. Those are the big two dangers in my job, throw heavy rain or snow and ice in there and it makes everything about twice as dangerous. Plus the cops in this town have hassled us about certian minor traffic violations (ie failure to yeild when exiting OUR parking lot where no one has ever had a problem and where we do it 250 times a week!) Does anyone know how much the police drive.... 60-120 miles a night. Thats about 75% of what we drive. So please give us a break! where better dirvers than most due only to the sheer number of miles put on the road. One last thing next time you sit at home order food and only have to get up to walk to the door... remember pizza guys are kinda like waiters, we bring you food and we live off tips too........ T I P S - To Insure Prompt Service...

compmd 12 years, 3 months ago

one of my good friends worked at pizza shuttle until recently, and I knew what he and his coworkers had to go through. day before thanksgiving i got a pizza around midnight, went out to my car with it and started driving away. another car in the lot followed me out. they followed me behind the place, out to 23rd, to mass, to 7th, and ultimately to their demise. at 19th and mass I called the cops. I even doubled back by turning east at 7th and mass and going south down NH. I arranged with the police that i would get them to follow me into the police parking lot...and they did. thankfully three patrol cars descended on them and blocked them in. an officer later told me that they thought I was a delivery guy. there were four people in the car that followed me. I dont want to think about what might have happened if i just would have gone home.

Celeste Plitz 12 years, 3 months ago

I have to say Marion, for once I agree with you. I used to work at Gumby's-I only felt uncomfortable once, but I was lucky-especially as I am female. We got paid 3 bucks an hour. Yep. Not a typo. Pizza delivery drivers, well, any delivery drivers really, depend on tips to survive. I averaged, minimum, 100-150 miles a night. My car was pretty trashed by the time I quit. That makes me really sad, to see that people are resorting to assauting delivery people just for a measly few bucks.

DGL 12 years, 3 months ago

I worked for 4 years as a delivery driver. People treat you like dirt and I felt like I needed to be ready to fight every Friday and Saturday night after midnight (I worked until about 5 am). The reason most people do this job is the cash. I was paid $6 and hour, and went home with about $100 on weekend nights. The only solution I see to this problem is to unionize the pizza delivery business. This would protect drivers from bad policies meant to cover the behinds of the "Big 3" (Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's). One such policy is prohibiting drivers from carrying weapons. Would robbers approach a driver that they knew was carrying a gun? I doubt it. Would they approach him/her if they knew that the driver had a panic button linked to a GPS radio that would get the police there in 2 minutes flat? Again, in most cases, no.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 3 months ago

panic button on GPS, great idea, and now they're not so costly!

tips. always tip delivery driver because I know the gas and vehicle maintenance is outa his/her pocket.
didn't occur to me to tip 15% or 20%, but glad it was mentioned above.
I wonder if lpd could employ some new techniques to catch those who would commit this crime?
and to the one who said that given the number of deliveries this crime is rare: that's an amazing attitude! these drivers shouldn't be risking these kinds of violent encounters for this low pay.

LawrenceMommy 12 years, 3 months ago

I have a question for all of the pizza delivery drivers out there. How much is considered an "appropriate" tip for you guys? I have heard that some people give little or nothing. I was a poor college student for years, but I could never not give a tip. Honestly, it's never occured to me to give a percentage because I don't think of it the same way as a waiter...granted you do a frustrating and apparently dangerous job, but a waiter is expected to spend an hour or more "catering" to me and I base my tip on that. I know convenience store clerks have a dangerous job, but they don't get tipped.

We usually spend around $15 on pizza...sometimes more, sometimes less, but around there, and we usually round up to the next dollar and add 2 more...if that makes sense. So if it comes out to $13.10 we make it $16, for example.

I'm just asking because I've been thanked by drivers before and I assumed that was appropriate. I would really like the opinion of the drivers out there.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 3 months ago

lawrenceMommie, that's about what we've done too for tips, round up to the next full dollar, making something like $1.50<>.

convenience stores clerks aren't paying for the electricity for lights and freezers out of their own pockets.

The_Voice_of_Reason 12 years, 3 months ago

A good tip for me is about one to two dollars a pizza. Two if its a good distance drive. And if there is bad weather extra is always welcome. And about the fact that us drivers can't carry "real" weapons doesn't hold us back from carrying pepper spray, large flash lights, or baseball bats in our cars. I somewhat long for the days of someone pointing a gun at you and asking nicely... then running off w/o having to beat you up.

DGL 12 years, 3 months ago

LawrenceMommy: the minimum tip is $3. If the check total is above $20, then the minimum is $5. If the weather's bad (cold or raining), then the minimum is $5. Frankly, very few people gave 15%, especially when orders were above $30. I had a customer who would always give $5 on his weekly pizza delivery which cost $17.17. I always opted to take his delivery first over other customers because I knew I was getting a decent tip. I also wanted to address your comment about not tipping convenience store clerks. Do you realize how much it costs to operate a vehicle about 100 miles every night that you work? Drivers pay for that themselves, with your tips. Not to take away from the dangers of working a convenience store, but delivering is much more dangerous. For those of you who don't tip, please remember: IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO TIP, YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO ORDER PIZZA.

yeah_right 12 years, 3 months ago

I delivered pizza in Lawrence for a couple of years when I was in school. I never felt threatened, but I was a little nervous a few times in shady areas. Being female was a plus for me as far as tips go. But there are those who never tip and don't even let you keep the change. Do you know how much it sucks to count change out of a bag! My pet peeve when delivering...people who don't turn on their porch lights. Driving around the block several times burns more gas. My goal as a delivery driver was deliver as many pizzas as possible while burning as little gas as possible.

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