A food delivery boy was arrested by the JP Nagar police for allegedly sexually harassing a woman over the phone to “teach her a lesson” for refusing the delivery. He even passed on her number on WhatsApp, claiming she was an escort. This led to her receiving hundreds of calls overnight from different men.
Smitha (name changed), a resident of JP Nagar, filed a complaint with the police, stating that on July 8, she had ordered food from McDonald’s through Foodpanda, an online food ordering platform. Around 10 pm, the delivery boy came to drop off her order placed from McDonald’s. He stared at her, made lewd comments, spoke with innuendos and left.
Half an hour later, she started receiving calls on her mobile phone from the delivery boy, seeking sexual favours. She scolded him and disconnected the call.
But soon after, more calls came. By the time she had alerted the police, she had got calls from 14 different mobile numbers. She told the police they sought sex and asked her how much she charged. Her admonishments only brought on foul language.
The police collected all the numbers she received calls from. They zeroed in on Shreyas, who is in his 20s. He confessed to the police about the harassment.
Deputy commissioner of Police (south) SD Sharanappa told Mirror: “According to Shreyas, there had been a row between the woman and him when he went to deliver he food. He claimed she did not like the delivered item and asked him to take back the parcel. Shreyas told her that was not possible.”
Smitha refused to pay him, but Shreyas kept the parcel at her place and left. Afterwards, he sent her mobile number to a WhatsApp group, claiming she was an escort, said Sharanappa.
The police said they would detain the men who called her for sex. “A team is working on the case, we have got the details on almost all the callers and we will arrest them shortly,” he said.
According to the police, Shreyas wanted to teach Smitha a lesson for refusing to take the food and make payment, although they were yet to ascertain why she refused the food.
Smitha had switched off her phone. When BM tried to contact her, she was not reachable.
When BM contacted McDonald’s about the incident, it got back with only a general reply. The spokesperson for McDonald’s India- west and south, said: “We, along with our partners, are investigating the incident involving a complaint regarding threatening and sexual abusive calls to a customer. Though such cases are extremely rare, we take allegations against any of our third-party service providers extremely seriously and, if substantiated, will always take the strongest possible act-ion. We will extend our full support to the customer and will cooperate with the local authorities, in every manner possible.”
* I live in an independent house, and even though I have neighbours on the first floor, I take every precaution possible. To begin with, I never leave my door unlocked, even if it’s during the day. The neighbourhood I live in is not always well-lit, so I always carry a small flash light, and pepper spray. When I am at home alone, I leave a light on outside the door, and one in the living room inside. I also make the payment online. —Aarti Sethi, 35, software professional
* I don’t keep regular work hours. Even so I make sure that I don’t take any deliveries after dark. Whether it is a courier, food delivery, or groceries — I make sure the delivery is made during the day when there are a lot more people in and around the building. I also keep a pepper spray and a pen knife in my bag at all times. Even when I am at home, I make sure they are within easy reach. I have also made it a point to know my neighbours; they are your first point of help in case of any trouble. —Saina Jayapal, 37, freelance communications consultant
How are delivery boys hired?
From groceries to meals to furniture — almost everything is being home delivered these days. Mirror wanted to know how safe it was to open your door to a stranger, and asked multiple food delivery services in the city on the procedures they followed while hiring their staff.
Petoo, a food startup, said it went through a service provider to hire delivery boys. It doesn’t hire them directly, but sources them through third-party vendors, said Abhishek Mandal, co-founder.
“We tell them the requirement and they find the employees. We also request them to get the police verification done,” he says, adding that the employees thus hired are later trained by Petoo. “We tell them how to be courteous, the need to deliver food with a smile, to apologise if the order is delayed and so on,” he said, adding that employees who successfully complete the training are certified and considered ready to go out for delivery.
Bengaluru-based food delivery service Swiggy said it conducted a two-stage background check before hiring a delivery boy. Spokesperson of the organisation said it initially gets the prospective employee’s personal ID proof verified by a third party. They also check for criminal and court records against the employee. The candidates who clear this stage are hired after a personal interview.
Initially, these newly recruited boys accompany experienced delivery boys and learn the process. After this, they start going out on their own. These delivery boys, however, are not on the payroll of the organisation, said the spokesperson.