Food delivery drivers and business owners beware. Again.
Phony orders are being placed and the delivery drivers robbed when they get to a drop-off location, police warned in an alert issued Thursday.
"We've tried to hire more than one driver, but those drivers are scared," said Ali Jabari, owner of Sicily Pizza on South Martin Luther King Dr and 64th St. "They are afraid to be here in this area, to deliver, because they don't want to lose their life just for a dollar."
Several armed robberies have taken place in the South Side Prairie and Grand Crossing districts, east of the Dan Ryan Expressway, between about 31st to 75th streets, police said.
The robbers order the food using cell phones, and when the drivers arrive at the location they are then robbed at gunpoint, the alert said.
"We get robbed all the time," said Cheryl Crawford of Italian Fiesta Pizzeria, which has four locations, including one in Hyde Park. "[There are] a couple incidents per month. Every time you go out on the streets, you're taking a chance."
Police said the cell phone numbers frequently used in the robberies include:
Business owners are advised to only accept orders placed from business or residential land lines, but some, like Crawford, find that advice difficult to take.
She said only taking delivery orders from land lines would "kill" their business.
"I don't even have a land line. We all have cell phones," she said.
Upon arrival, drivers should call the customer prior to exiting their vehicle, and make visual contact with the customer prior to exiting the vehicle, police said.
Additionally, police said business owners should be suspicious of large orders where the customers request change for large denominations.
Police ask that 911 or Calumet Area detectives be notified immediately with suspicious numbers, and that businesses keep a log of frequently used suspicious numbers.
If anyone has information concerning these incidents, they should call Calumet Area detectives, at 312-747-8273, or send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three people were arrested in connection with a similar string of robberies earlier this month.