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Published: Thursday, 3/29/2012

Pizza deliveryman mulls less-risky job

E. Toledoan robbed twice of food, cash

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jeff Stockman provides chilling details of how he has faced adversity when gunmen twice have robbed him of pizzas he was delivering and money he carried for change. He's looking for a new line of work. Jeff Stockman provides chilling details of how he has faced adversity when gunmen twice have robbed him of pizzas he was delivering and money he carried for change. He's looking for a new line of work.
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After staring down the barrel of a gun twice as a pizza deliveryman, Jeff Stockman is considering a new line of work.

The 30-year-old was held up at gunpoint two years ago, and more recently was delivering food for C.I. Pizza, formerly Cottage Inn, 240 W. Alexis Rd., when he was twice held up for cash and the order he was carrying -- once with a toy gun and once with a real gun.

"I've considered looking for another job," he said from his East Toledo home, his wife and two young children playing in the back yard. "I'm sick of wondering if I'm going to come home to my wife and kids at night."

Robberies of pizza delivery drivers are not unheard of and, when there is a rash of them, police take steps to minimize the number of incidents, Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said.

"We'll talk to the pizza delivery persons and merchants and try to make sure they're employing the proper safeguards," which includes calling back phone numbers to confirm orders and tracking problem addresses, the sergeant said.

In most cases, when the perpetrator is demanding only material things, it's best to comply, Sergeant Heffernan said. If the suspect wants the victim to get into a car with him or drive him somewhere, it might be better to resist.

"The odds of survivability go down if you get into a car with somebody," the sergeant said. "You're probably better off resisting and trying to get away rather than complying with what they're asking in that particular type of incident."

Recently in Toledo, pizza delivery robberies have occurred in spurts: police investigated three incidents in South Toledo in December within a three-day span, and again in the central city on Jan. 13, 19 and 23.

It was about 3:30 a.m. March 8 when Mr. Stockman was en route to deliver food to the 1500 block of Hirzel Street when the pizza shop called to say the customers had "called like crazy" wondering where the food was.

When he arrived and walked up to the door, he noticed how dark it was and "got a weird feeling."

The man who answered the door reached into a pocket, as if he were reaching for money, but instead pointed what turned out to be a camouflage toy gun at Mr. Stockman.

Knowing the suspect had a toy, Mr. Stockman started to fight the man, who eventually pulled Mr. Stockman's T-shirt and jacket over his head and forced him to the ground, allowing the suspect to take cash from the victim's pocket.

"I'm not just gonna go down easily," said Mr. Stockman, who was robbed for the first time about two years ago during a delivery. "When I saw it was a fake gun, I was like, 'No way.' "

After the robbery, two arrests were made, although charges against the two were later dropped, according to Toledo Municipal Court records.

Sixteen days later, on March 24, Mr. Stockman was faced again with a gun -- this one real -- as he made a delivery about 11:35 p.m. to an apartment at the Port Lawrence Homes in the 800 block of 11th Street.

Mr. Stockman was at the back of the silver van he drives, taking out the delivery order, when a man pointed a gun at him, demanding to look inside the van.

The suspect put his gun on top of the pizza boxes he was holding as he peered in; Mr. Stockman thought about reaching for the gun, but restrained himself.

"I'm glad I thought not to grab for it," he said. "I really don't want to die over some pizzas."

The suspect left with the pizzas and money from Mr. Stockman's pocket; police have not arrested anyone.

Mr. Stockman said he's worked for the company for almost two years. He'd like to quit -- to walk away from the danger -- but he has bills to pay and a family to take care of.

His wife, Andrea, is a stay-at-home mother who takes care of the children, James, 2, and Fiona, who isn't even a year old. Soon the couple will adopt Mr. Stockman's nephew and niece, who are 2 and 7 years old.

He'd like to find something else to do; ideally he would flip houses or find work as a general contractor.

He would even be willing to work as an optician, which he did while he lived for two years in California.

"Nobody robs you for glasses," he said.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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