Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Great Pizza Hut Heist

Pizza Memories, 2011

When I was in college I worked part-time as the manager of a Pizza Hut. None of us working there had any intention of making a career in the pizza industry. Some of us were in college, some in high school and some just working part-time to help make ends meet.

One Friday night in late October, the store was full of high school kids having fun after a football game. It was noisy. We were serving pizzas as fast as we could make them.

One of the security rituals was that whenever the cash register started filling, the manager was to remove the big bills and stash them in a cylindrical floor safe located beneath the register. Our “back-up security system,” as I referred to it, consisted of hiding the locked safe door under a plastic trash can.

Just after 11:00 p.m., I was standing at the register with a circular pizza cutter blade in my hand, alternately checking customers out and slicing pizzas as they came out of the oven. All of a sudden a tall man stepped behind the counter beside me, grabbed one of the shorter waitresses, held a knife to her throat and demanded all the cash from the register.

Immediately the mood changed. One of the robbers reached down and unplugged the jukebox. The kids out front became silent. One of the robbers knocked the pizza cutter out of my hand and told me to empty the register into a bag.

The robbers knew there was a safe somewhere in the building and demanded that I open it for them. I told them I didn’t have the combination and made sure with my feet that the “back-up security system”—a.k.a. the trash can—stayed on top of the safe door. They grabbed the bag from my hands, dropped the waitress and disappeared out the side of the restaurant.

The protocol in such situations is to call the police, make sure everyone is okay and then have someone alert all the other Pizza Huts in town. The police arrived quickly, took statements and let all the kids go home. It was left to an assistant manager and me to close the store, clean the place, count whatever money was left and drop the deposit off at the bank night depository on the way home.

The waitress who’d been grabbed by the robber was too upset to drive herself home. She lived about twenty-five miles out into the country. Her husband couldn’t leave the children to come get her, so I drove her home. There was no reason for me to be alarmed by this. However, as the veteran of many campfire stories when I was a child, I will admit that I did keep looking in the backseat of my car to make sure nobody was hiding back there.

The cleanup back at the restaurant took several hours. Every car that so much as paused at the stoplight in front of the Pizza Hut was carefully scrutinized by me. Every time the wind blew tree limbs against the roof of the building I shook.

The robbers were never apprehended. A few months later there was another robbery. This one took place after the restaurant had closed. This time the robbers not only knew about the floor safe, but also how to get into it. I don’t know for sure how this case ended. By then I’d found another job with more normal hours. The last I heard the second robbery was pinned on a disgruntled former employee of one of the other Pizza Huts.

I guess the allure of free pizzas and all the Pepsi Cola you could drink was not enough for some employees.

1 comment:

  1. That doesn't sound like fun. Thank goodness that's all they did. How do you ever eat a pizza without thinking about that! Kinda' takes all the fun out of pepperoni, doesn't it? That pizza up on top here looks like my kind of pizza. Hold the pepperoni for me.