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Woman ‘orders pizza’ from police dispatcher in coded call for help

Dispatcher, realizing situation, plays along by asking questions about toppings to get further information as cops race to scene

Screen capture from video of a police dispatcher taking a call. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of a police dispatcher taking a call. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A police dispatcher who took a call from a woman ostensibly trying to order a pizza realized that the caller was surreptitiously alerting her that she was in danger of domestic violence, and by playing along, enabled officers to rush to the rescue within minutes, Israel Police said Thursday.

The feint was made famous after an American woman used it to covertly call police to report her mother’s abusive partner in 2019, fearing he would hear if she tried to openly call for help.

In the incident Thursday, the woman called Israel’s national emergency hotline to report that she was in trouble, but because the suspect was in earshot, asked to order a pizza pie to hide her true intentions.

In a recording of the call published by police Thursday, the dispatcher appears to immediately catch on to what is happening, asking the woman, “Are you being threatened?”

Yes,” the woman answered. “I’m with a friend.”

After getting the woman’s address, the dispatcher asked if the person threatening her was there at the time.

“Yes yes, we want olives and corn,” the woman answered.

“Is he armed?” the dispatcher asked.

“No, we don’t want cola, we’ve got some at home,” the woman replied.

“If there’s someone beside you, add another topping,” the quick-thinking dispatcher asked.

“I’ll also take mushrooms,” responded the woman.

Another dispatcher then told the woman: “Keep yourself safe, we’re on our way.”

Police said that officers arrived at the address within minutes and detained a 30-year-old man on suspicion of assault and making threats. There were no injuries in the incident.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended his remand until Friday.

Coded calls or messages are a common way for victims to signal for help without alerting their abusers, according to professionals who deal with domestic violence. Hotline dispatchers are often trained to listen for non-explicit signs of distress.

The pizza-ordering example made famous in 2019 is taught to dispatchers in Israel, an officer told the Ynet news site after a similar case last year.

In May, a woman in the UK called the police to order a pizza as a way to raise the alarm that she was in danger, North Yorkshire police reported. In that incident, the woman was traveling on a bus at the time, but officers were able to locate her and a man was later arrested.

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