In two-thirds of delivery driver robberies, order was a ruse

With robberies of food delivery drivers in the news recently, The Baltimore Sun's Jonathan Pitts hit the streets with a 36-year-old man who delivers pizzas to talk about the inherent dangers.

Baltimore police have since provided data on these robberies, showing that in nearly two-thirds of them, the food order was placed as a ruse and with the intention of committing a robbery.

Police said there have been 66 food delivery driver robberies this year, and in 42 of them, investigators believe the robbers placed the order. In the other 24 robberies, police believe the driver was ambushed as he made a legitimate order.

In all, robberies of delivery drivers represent about one-sixth of all commercial robberies reported in Baltimore this year.

Though comparison numbers for food delivery robberies in previous years weren't immediately available, overall commercial robberies are down this year by 11 percent, with 415 reported as of Oct. 20 compared with 465 at the same point last year.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said police are working on an awareness campaign for delivery drivers to let them know warning signs and to urge them to call 911 if they feel unsafe while making a delivery.

Pizza deliveryman Shakeel Anjum told The Sun that he had once been yanked into a vacant home and beaten, breaking his right arm. He and his wife, who took the order, said call had placed been placed from a pay phone, which they know is a red flag.

Eleven months later, he was robbed at gunpoint. Sometimes he'll abandon an order if he gets bad vibes, he said.

A now-defunct union for delivery drivers once compiled information showing such attacks have an average of 2.2 assailants, with an average age of 19. They also said 30 percent of robberies were spur-of-the-moment crimes — roughly in line with the city's statistics this year.

Justin Fenton

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