On May 25, a Hungry Howie's delivery driver in Mobile, Ala., was shot twice in the leg while trying to deliver a pizza. The perpetrator apparently made a fake call to the pizzeria and ambushed the driver, taking his money and the pie.
Police later arrested Ian York of Mobile for the crime, charging him with first-degree robbery.
On June 5, two armed men robbed a Pizza City delivery driver in Salsbury, Md., after no one answered the apartment door where the driver was attempting to make a delivery. According to police, the suspects stole the driver's cell phone, wallet, keys and approximately $45 in cash.
And on June 2, robbers shot and killed Pizza Hut driver Wilson James of Summerville, S.C., as he attempted to make his last delivery of the night. According to police, someone called the restaurant and gave the address of a house in Summerville.
When James, a military veteran, showed up at the address he was shot and killed. Pizza Hut is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, driver/sales workers and truck drivers, including pizza-delivery drivers, remains one of the 10 most dangerous professions in the United States. Labor statistics show the fatality rate in the driver category was 29.1 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2005, an increase of .09 percent from 26.7 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2003.
Cashless a growing trend
To help prevent drivers from becoming a target, most, if not all, pizza companies have policies in place governing cash-handling and driver-security issues.
"Drivers are instructed to carry less than $20, and to make drops when they return to the store after all delivery runs," said Tim McIntyre, Domino's vice president of communications. "We instruct them to verify orders from new customers and they are trained to also verify late-night orders."
After a rash of delivery driver robberies in New Castle County, Del., earlier this year, the editors of The News-Journal in Wilmington, Del., posted a commentary on the paper's Web site predicting future changes in the way pizzerias handle deliveries.
"It seems that the home delivery of pizza will go the way of most other services that were once hand-delivered with a personal touch," the editors wrote. "Drivers will have to become cashless."
Although McIntyre and representatives from other pizza companies couldn't provide a comparison of cash vs. cashless transactions, the number of credit- and debit-card transactions occurring each year in the United States is on the rise.
According to the Federal Reserve, the number of credit- and debit-card transactions surpassed the number of check transactions for the first time in 2003.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve projects the number of debit-card transactions to grow more than 23 percent each year, while the number of credit-card transactions is expected to grow about 7 percent each year.
However, that growth comes at a price. Credit-card companies charge merchants a transaction fee ranging anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase amount each time a credit card is used.
Most pizza companies allow customers to use credit or debit cards when ordering over the phone.
"We have even experimented with card swipe machines that drivers can wear on their belts," McIntyre said. "So far, though, these have proven to be too bulky and uncomfortable."
Getting the drivers on board
Key to cashless-delivery success is the cooperation of delivery drivers themselves.
Participants in a discussion on TipthePizzaGuy.com, a Web site offering news and tips for pizza delivery drivers, acknowledged that credit and debit card payments were an increasing trend, although few thought cash would disappear entirely.
"No, it's not feasible to only take credit card and check orders," said a driver identified only as 'Soldier.' "There's just too many people unwilling to move on from cash, even at the risk of making our job (so) much safer."
Many drivers agreed that both the size of the order and the accompanying tip were greater when customers used credit or debit cards.
"Beyond driver safety, which is our top priority, cashless transactions also are extremely convenient for customers," McIntyre said. "We do foresee a time when the vast majority of our transactions are cashless, which would provide a win-win for our customers — convenience — and our team members — an added measure of confidence with regard to safety.