Pizza-loving gang of robbers busted in Delhi

The gang would order pizza by phone, then rob the deliveryman of his phones, cash, vehicle and the food.
The gang would order pizza by phone, then rob the deliveryman of his phones, cash, vehicle and the food.PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST/ HUGE GALDONES

NEW DELHI - A gang of criminals has been nabbed in south-east Delhi after their propensity for targeting pizza and food delivery staff caught the attention of the police.

The gang would order pizza by phone, scheduling the deliveries at secluded locations. Then, once the deliveryman arrived, they would rob him of his phones, cash and two-wheelers, as well as the food.

The criminals' modus operandi proved to be their undoing however, when police took note of three robberies between Saturday and Sunday, The Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

In those cases, deliverymen from a pizza outlet in Zamrudpur and two restaurants in Malviya Nagar and Kalkaji were robbed in the Sriniwaspuri locality.

"It was noticed that in all three incidents, the accused, identified as Deepak (one name) (23), Chirag Sharma (23) and Karan Mahajan (19), had placed orders at different restaurants through an online food delivery portal and requested delivery at secluded places, mostly around Sriniwaspuri. The deliverymen told the police that when they arrived with the order, the men brandished a knife, snatched the food and then robbed them of valuables," Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-east) Chinmoy Biswal said

An investigation revealed that the mobile phone number used for the first order was registered to a false name, while the next two orders were placed using the mobile phone robbed from the first deliveryman.

"Following surveillance, the police zeroed in on Mahajan and he was arrested on Sunday. He admitted to his involvement in the robberies," DCP Biswal said.

Mahajan subsequently disclosed the whereabouts of his accomplices, who were arrested on the same day, leading to the recovery of a motorcycle, three stolen mobile phones, two ATM card swiping machines, 3,000 rupees (S$57.09) in cash and five delivery bags.

The police said Mahajan was a drug addict and school dropout whose father had migrated to the US a few years ago, leaving him and his mother behind. He had subsequently started harassing his mother, who got a court restraining order that barred him from going within 200 metres of her house.

Deepak used to work as a deliveryman for an online shopping portal, but was arrested three months ago for a car robbery. After he was released from jail, he hooked up with Sharma, who was recently thrown out of his job as a deliveryman with the same online food delivery portal where the three victims of their latest crimes were working.