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At the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic, when businesses and schools shut down and people were apprehensive to step out of their homes to even go grocery shopping, food delivery workers quickly arose as essential workers. People all around the country, and especially in Los Angeles, began ordering in, seeking safe delivery of meals, groceries, and more. But while the delivery businesses saw a surge in activity, there was one big downside: crimes against delivery drivers reportedly increased dramatically.
According to Los Angeles Police Department data quoted by Crosstown, there were 114 crimes against delivery people from Mar. 15, 2020 —when Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the cessation of in-person service at Los Angeles bars and restaurants— through Mar. 14, 2021. Interestingly, this increase came as overall crime in the city in that same timeframe fell by 12%.
More specifically, there were 36 reported robberies of a delivery person in Los Angeles from Mar. 15, 2020 to Mar. 14, 2021 — making it the most frequent crime against delivery workers, surpassing the 29 assaults.
The number of incidents in the pandemic year is a 128% increase over the 50 crimes perpetrated against delivery workers from Mar. 15, 2018 to Mar. 14, 2019. There was reportedly little month-to-month consistency in the past year, with 20 crimes against delivery workers in Jan. 2021, but only two last Sept.
Per the same aforementioned LAPD data, the Los Angeles neighborhood with the most recorded attacks was Vermont Knolls with seven, which includes the carjacking of a 46-year-old delivery person. Also, Historic South-Central, Sylmar, and University Park each were the site of five attacks against delivery workers during the pandemic year.
Since the start of the pandemic, people have become more reliant on online orders, and delivery services such as Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats have seen skyrocketing sales. That has led to a demand for food delivery workers and other couriers.
According to data by Second Measure, sales for meal delivery services grew 36% year-over-year, collectively in Apr. 2021. By the same month, 48% of U.S. consumers had ever ordered from one of the services, up from 39% a year ago. DoorDash and its subsidiaries earned 56% of U.S. consumers’ meal delivery sales in Apr. 2021, and Uber Eats coming in second place with 21% (however, some Uber Eats transactions are indistinguishable from Uber Rides transactions). As of May 2021, DoorDash is the top food delivery service in Los Angeles, followed by Postmates, which used to be the leader just last autumn.
A spokesperson for Uber reportedly told Crosstown that the company is aware of the increase in carjacking and other violent assaults against its drivers during the pandemic, though did not share specific numbers for Los Angeles. A Grubhub representative told Crosstown in a statement the company advises drivers and couriers to exercise extreme caution when delivering orders, and allows them to reject an order without a penalty if they feel uncomfortable completing a delivery. Also, a spokesperson for DoorDash also stressed that safety is of the highest importance, and said that later this year the company plans to integrate an in-app emergency assistance button for drivers to easily connect with emergency services.