Police say they have a lead on a suspect in one of three separate incidents where robbers stole cash and pizzas from delivery drivers in Evanston during the past two weeks.
Two men demanded a driver’s money, then stole his cash and a large pizza in the 1900 block of Jackson Avenue on Nov. 4, according to police. On Monday, Nov. 12, two men wearing masks and all black clothing displayed a handgun, then from a J.B. Alberto’s delivery driver in the 700 block of Dodge Avenue. And on Tuesday, Nov. 13, three masked men threatened a Sarpino’s delivery driver in the 800 block of Case Street, saying they had a gun and a knife, then stole his cash, wallet, cell phone, keys, and the two pepperoni pizzas he was carrying. All three incidents happened after dark.
“They’re generally easier targets because they deliver at night, they have cash on them, they do have phones,” said Evanston Police Cmdr. Jason Parrott.
Parrott said police have some leads into their investigation of the incident on Monday, which took place in the 700 block of Dodge Street. In all three cases, he said, the robbers called a pizza restaurant to place a fake order, then ambushed the delivery driver when he arrived. At this time, he said, there is no evidence to show that the incidents are related, given that each happened in a different area and involved different weapons (or none at all.)
Asked whether the incidents could be gang-related, Parrott said that, as a generalization, offenders in violent incidents often have gang connections.
“Sometimes gang members will do this to generate revenue,” he said.
A delivery driver for the Sarpino’s Pizza location at 2428 Main St. in Evanston was the victim of the most recent robbery, on Sunday night. A different driver for the same restaurant was also robbed in a fourth incident that took place in the 800 block of Dobson Street on Sept. 8. Police have since arrested and charged two Evanston men in connection with the robbery in September.
Vel Antonov, general manager of the Sarpino’s Pizza on Main Street, said drivers for his business had been robbed approximately four times in the last four years. He said both people who were robbed recently were men in their 20s.
“We do warn them, especially if they’re going to certain areas,” Antonov said. “If it’s dark or if there’s not enough light, they call from the car, they don’t get out of the car until they actually see the person.”
Antonov also said that the restaurant calls the police if a call seems suspicious. While he didn’t want to say exactly what employees look for, given the fact that robbers might change their habits, he said there are certain characteristics that tip them off to a fraudulent call.
In those cases, he said he calls the police or sends two to three drivers to the location.