COLUMBUS, Ohio -- According to a report in Columbus This Week, the number of reports of pizza delivery driver robberies in 2002 was 40 percent higher than in 2001.

By the end of November, Columbus police had received 75 reports of driver robberies; in all of 2001 there were 45.

Columbus police robbery squad Sgt. Shaun Laird said he doesn't know why delivery robberies were up, but he said "a significant number" of the robberies occurred in one area.

Eight of the 75 robberies happened on Shanley Drive, behind Northland Mall, and several others occurred in an area immediately north of Northland Mall, in the 18th precinct.

Earlier this year Columbus Strategic Response Bureau officers wrote a brochure filled with tips for avoiding driver robberies and took them to every pizza delivery shop in the city. Some of the tips included:

* Keep a database to track areas and individual addresses where problems occur.

* Do call-backs on orders to confirm the person who called is at that number.

* If possible, don't accept calls from payphones or cell phones.

* Have drivers carry a limited amount of cash.

* Drive through and examine poorly lit or suspicious areas before exiting the car.

* Have a two-way communication system handy, such as a cellular telephone, in case a robbery occurs.

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