Man, 40, arrested after 'vulnerable' woman dials 999 pretending to order pizza

7 April 2022, 06:29 | Updated: 7 April 2022, 07:11

A 'vulnerable' woman pretended to order pizza while on the phone to police.
A 'vulnerable' woman pretended to order pizza while on the phone to police. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A 40-year-old man has been arrested after a woman pretended to order pizza while calling police for help.

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A quick-thinking police call handler was praised for their response when the woman, who was concerned about her safety, called to order a takeaway.

The woman had been on a bus journey in North Yorkshire when she contacted emergency services, covertly answering in yes or no questions.

The call came in to North Yorkshire Police on Tuesday evening, with the handler immediately asked the woman if she was in trouble, to which she confirmed "yes".

While keeping the phone line open, the pair were then able to communicate via text for more information.

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Officers later managed to locate the bus using an online tracker, and stop it in York, police said.

A man from Leeds was arrested in connection with the incident.

He was released with no further action, although the woman has been provided with safeguarding and support.

Inspector Dan Spence, Force Incident Manager in North Yorkshire Police's Control Room, said: "This was really good work by everyone involved, allowing us to take immediate action to safeguard a vulnerable woman.

"I'm aware of people using the 'pizza ordering' technique abroad to contact the police, but I cannot recall a similar call in North Yorkshire."

People commended the force online, with one Twitter user saying: "Hats off to North Yorkshire Police, the call handler.

"A slap on the back, a hip hip hooray to all involved, this is the kind of stuff which brings credit to the often criticised police system."

Another person tweeted: "Well done to all involved especially the victim who managed to stay rational and calm despite her terrible ordeal.

"Well done too to the call handler who immediately realised what might be wrong - training or instinct, it doesn't matter.

"Share so others can learn what to do."

North Yorkshire Police also offered advice to others who may be faced with a similar situation.

They said: "All 999 calls are directed to call centres and answered by BT operators. They'll ask which service you need.

"If no service is requested but anything suspicious is heard throughout the process, the operator will connect you to a police call handler.

"It's always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering. You may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions.

"The police call handler will attempt to communicate with you by asking simple yes or no questions.

"If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so we can assess your call and arrange help if needed."