Despite robberies, pizza gets through

January 25, 1995|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

Michael Brooks was on his way to deliver two pizzas in the 1900 block of Vincent St. in Annapolis Friday when he became a statistic: one of six pizza deliverymen in the county to be held up since November.

He said yesterday that he was "shaken" after the incident, in which someone held a hard object to his back and two men robbed him of his wallet and $150. He was back on the job the next night, he said, but "a little hesitant."

Sgt. Earl Fowlkes, head of the county police robbery unit, said the number of robberies is small compared with the number of trips pizza deliverymen make, but pizza shop managers say the incidents have prompted them to take precautions to protect their employees.

Some use a caller identification system in an effort to thwart bogus orders. Some refuse to make deliveries in neighborhoods they consider dangerous.

Sam Barnes, manager of a Domino's Pizza shop in the 2700 block of Mountain Road, said his shop won't deliver to Freetown. Bruce Headley, manager of the Domino's shop at the Forest Plaza Shopping Center in Annapolis, said his shop won't deliver to Parole and some parts of Bestgate Road after dark. And he won't deliver to Bowman Court at all.

Others depend on their gut reactions. Ted Schneider, manager of Pizz-A-Boli's on Forest Drive in Annapolis, recalled thinking there was something fishy after a caller placed a $48 order and asked the deliveryman to bring change for a $100 bill. That delivery was canceled.

Mr. Schneider also uses a caller identification system. Employees who take orders ask the customers for their telephone numbers. If the numbers don't match, the deliverymen don't go. And he said he has told his nine deliverymen to cooperate with robbers.

"Don't fight over 50 bucks or 100 bucks," he said. "It's not worth it."

Mr. Brooks, 25, and Mohammed J. Alam, 34, who work for a Pizz-A-Boli's shop in the 1900 block of Forest Drive, were robbed on successive nights over the weekend.

When Mr. Brooks arrived at the house on Vincent Street shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, a man who appeared to be a customer approached him in the front yard. A second man sneaked up behind the deliveryman, put something that he said felt like a handgun to his back and ordered him to empty his pockets.

The next night, Mr. Alam made a delivery to the 1700 block of Belle Drive shortly before 11 p.m. Two men held what he said felt like a gun to his back and took the pizza from him, along with $238 from his jacket pockets.

Robert Gahn, a deliveryman for Pizza Express in the 3400 block of Annapolis Road, was hit on the head with a baseball bat and robbed by two teen-agers as he tried to deliver a pizza in Severn shortly before 8 p.m. Jan. 17.

Mr. Gahn, 22, received a fractured skull, a concussion and broken bones in his face. He was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in serious condition. His condition has been upgraded to good, Chuck Jackson, a spokesman for Shock Trauma, said yesterday.

Two nights later, Michelle Mazzola, 25, a co-worker at Pizza Express, was making a delivery in the 1400 block of Gesna Drive when two youths approached her, threatened her with hammers and stole two pizzas and cash.

Saturday, county robbery detectives charged two Severn youths, 13 and 15, in both robberies. The boys were released to their parents.

The hazards of the job rarely deter applicants, who flock to his store whenever he puts out a "Drivers Wanted" sign, Mr. Schneider said.

Mr. Brooks said he would go back to the same neighborhood where he was robbed, but that he would be more alert wherever he goes, adding that fear of being robbed would not deter him from doing his job.

"I knew what my risks were when I took" the job, he said.

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