Originally created 09/14/03

Food deliverers watch for safety



On-the-job safety has always been a priority for Ron Norris and his employees at Domino's Pizza on Washington Road.

Although he and others in his industry were horrified by the Aug. 28 death of an Erie, Pa., pizza deliveryman killed by a bomb locked to his neck after a bank robbery, Mr. Norris said his drivers are trained to be cautious before making deliveries.

"We don't send our drivers anywhere that's questionable. If it's too dark, they're not obligated to deliver," said Mr. Norris, who managed a Domino's shop in Aiken for three years.

John Swiecki, a driver at Mr. Norris' store, has delivered for Domino's for 12 years and has been robbed only once.

About four years ago, while working in North Augusta, Mr. Swiecki was surprised one night "when a big guy" appeared and demanded his money as he delivered to an apartment complex.

Mr. Swiecki, 30, said he was shaken for about six months.

"I only had $20 and gave it to him. We're trained to do certain things in order to stay safe," said the married father of two children.

Nick Smith, who manages a Steak-Out restaurant on Pleasant Home Road near Martinez, said his drivers, like many pizza deliverers, are not allowed to receive bills larger than a $20. Drivers are also required to bring their money back to the store before the amount grows too large, he said.

"At the end of the night, they can count their money," Mr. Smith said.

His employees do make choices about where they deliver.

"There are places in our delivery area where we don't deliver because of crime," Mr. Smith said. "There's no reason to put people in jeopardy for a steak."

At Pizza Hut, safety and security remain a priority, said Patty Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the company's Dallas corporate offices.

"We have a thorough safety procedure for our drivers, but we never publicize it," she said.Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry credits area food delivery companies for implementing in-house security measures.

"They're already very careful about where they deliver and take many precautions," he said.

To guard against potential criminals who make orders using fake addresses, Maj. Autry said many shops use caller identification equipment and require callers to give call-back phone numbers to confirm orders.

"If no one answers, no delivery," Mr. Norris said.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.