Undercover Pizza Bust
Officer disguised as a pizza driver bust gang of pizza delivery robbers after tip from real driver.
Three Elyria, Ohio teens who ordered an extra large pizza with bacon got an unexpected side order of police officers and handcuffs.
Wearing a Marco's Pizza hat, with a pizza car sign on the roof of a rusty Oldsmobile, and a hole cut in a cardboard pizza box for his gun, an Elyria police officer went undercover as a pizza delivery man Saturday night.
The teen-agers, who are 15 and 16 years old, were arrested after police found them in a vacant home with a loaded shotgun.
The undercover operation started after workers at a Marco's Pizza shop took a suspicious order.
The questionable customer on Saturday sounded like the same person who phoned in a fake pizza order to be delivered to a vacant home earlier in the week.
In that case, a female delivery driver was approached by males with sticks at the vacant home, but she escaped unharmed.
When a pizza shop employee tried to call back the phone number given for the suspicious order Saturday night, it was disconnected.
Marco's manager Ben Reppas had another worker drive by the address given by the customer.
The home appeared to be vacant.
Reppas got in touch with the Elyria Police Department.
Police cooked up a plan for canine officer Tom Baracskai to go undercover and pretend to be a pizza delivery man.
Other officers surrounded the home where the delivery was to be made.
Two Marco's employees helped with the disguise.
"He cut the bottom of the box open and put his gun it," said Marco's Pizza employee Beth Beal. "He put his pizza hat on and said, 'It's going down.' "
When officer Baracskai arrived at the vacant home he was approached by one of the teens.
The teen asked Baracskai to enter the home but the officer declined.
He told the teen that he need to retrieve the money bag from his car.
That's when two of suspects fled on foot.
They were quickly captured.
A third teen was discovered hiding inside the vacant home's porch.
A loaded shotgun was also recovered from the porch.
The teens were charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, resisting arrest and obstruction of official business.
Two Marco's Pizza drivers have been robbed in the past few months and one of them was punched in the face.
"I think it's good," said Marco's Pizza employee Seth Hellard. "There's no telling what they would have done to the delivery driver."
Hellard has been through that scenario.
He was robbed last year while delivering pizza.
"One guy had like a table leg," said Hellard of the robbery. "The other guy pulled out a pistol and pointed it right at my face. So I knew they meant business."
"The cops did a really good job," said Beal. "We feel a lot better knowing that these guys are off the streets.
"We worry about the safety of our drivers," Beal said. "And we just want to get the message out there that people need to stop messing around with us. That's just the bottom line, 'cause you don't know if the cops are going to be coming to deliver your pizza."