As more people have relied on food delivery apps during the pandemic, questions about worker safety have arisen after high-profile crimes.
DoorDash delivery driver Andrew Satavu was fatally shot inside his vehicle on Monday after dropping off an order near the McHenry Village mall in central Modesto. Police have released no information about a possible motive or suspect. The fatal shooting is the first reported killing of a third-party delivery app worker while working in the city.
Spokespersons for the Modesto Police Department and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said incidents involving delivery people in the area remain rare. Modesto Police spokeswoman Sharon Bear said detectives are not working on any theft or carjacking cases involving delivery drivers. The sheriff’s spokesman, Sgt. Luke Schwartz said his department has seen no “significant increase or noticeable trend” involving delivery workers.
Still, the city has had incidents in the past. Most third-party app deliverers don’t carry large sums of cash with them, as payments and tips are made through customers’ mobile phones. But their cars became targets.
In December 2019, another DoorDash delivery driver was picking up an order at Garcia Jo Jo’s on McHenry Avenue in Modesto when his car was stolen with his 9-year-old daughter still inside. The thief abandoned the vehicle shortly after realizing there was an unexpected passenger, but left the car running so it slid into the street and cut off parked vehicles before driving off. being stopped by a good Samaritan. Neither the girl nor her mother were injured in the carjacking.
Police in some major metropolitan areas, including Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., have reported during the pandemic that carjackings and car thefts have increased, including against gig workers who drive for third-party apps like DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats.
Overall nationwide, robberies and rapes have been down since the start of the pandemic, according to the Police Executive Search Forumbut homicides, including shootings, have increased.
In response, tech companies that employ delivery workers have updated some of their policies and procedures. A DoorDash spokesperson said the company offers workers’ compensation insurance to its drivers (which they call Dashers) at no cost. Last year, it also launched a in-app security toolkit for its gig workers.
“DoorDash takes the safety of our community very seriously. Although negative incidents are extremely rare, we are constantly working to improve our products, policies and processes because even one incident is one incident too many,” said one. DoorDash spokesperson in a written statement to The Bee.
The program, called SafeDash, partners with the national security company ADT and allows quick contact with one of its agents. It also has a button that will connect delivery people to emergency services.
Since the start of the pandemic, rival company Uber Eats has also implemented new safety guidelines, including GPS tracking and an emergency assistance button for delivery people. And Grubhubs, on its website for delivery driverssaid it would “proactively close markets when an entire market becomes unsafe for our delivery partners.”
The incidents with food delivery drivers follow years of reports of assault, harassment and worse for their gig economy cousins, the ride-hailing drivers. Platforms like Uber and Lyft have reported claims of thousands of sexual assaults alone in years past. Tech companies have rolled out features aimed at making the service safer for passengers and drivers, including Uber new audio recording option in rides launched late last year.
This story was originally published April 21, 2022 12:53 p.m.