DoorDash thieves whisk away lunches

Thieves are dashing away with many student food, drink orders

Students+desperately+cling+to+a+DoorDash+order.+Many+have+recently+been+stolen.

Carol Chen

Students desperately cling to a DoorDash order. Many have recently been stolen.

Sydney Cicchitto, Staff Writer

As sophomore Aneesha Reddy watched someone stroll past her with a familiar-looking bag of food in their arms, she realized they were stealing her DoorDash right in front of her eyes.

“I went up to him and I was like ‘You have my order, can I have it back?’ He was already drinking one of the teas by the time I got to him,” Reddy said. “He ended up giving me the food back. He was like ‘I am going to just keep the other teas.’ And I was like ‘No, no you are not.’ Then I took them both and did not say anything.”

Outside the front doors of the administration building, there is a small table for all lunches, ranging from forgotten school lunches, snacks for after school, to mobile food orders.

This school year, the table has become known as the ‘DoorDash table’ where most people tell their DoorDash dasher to drop off their meal.

“People didn’t DoorDash things pre-pandemic the way that they do now,” assistant principal Jeffrey Osborn said. “The amount of DoorDash has increased significantly and there is an opportunity for students to make poor decisions when the DoorDash is just sitting there.”

Another T4 order was stolen a few days before Reddy’s, on March 21. When junior Praneeta Agrawal and her friends went to pick up their boba order from the table, their entire bag was missing.

“It was just five minutes after we ordered our T4, and it was stolen,” Agrawal said.

Junior Akshara Chintarevula also had her boba order swiped.

“You are always thinking that someone may steal [your order], but you never really think it will happen to you,” Chintarevula said. “But then when it actually happens, you are like, ‘What in the world?’”

The fear of getting school lunch stolen is shared among many Cal students.

“I get [to the DoorDash table] as soon as possible,” sophomore Mac Lunsford said. “I forgot to check my phone once. I ran out and [my food] was still there. I was so happy.”

Many students, such as junior Dylan Burlingame, try to schedule their orders to make sure that they get their food before someone steals it.

“I have definitely worried about [my food getting stolen],” Burlingame said. “Luckily, I kind of get there as soon as it arrives. It definitely is something where if you are not sure where your food is, you are like ‘Oh shoot! Did someone steal it?’”

A few days later, on March 28, sophomore Abby Melin’s Chick-fil-A order was stolen.

“I ordered cookies [from Chick-fil-A] for me and all my friends. I went out there during lunch to go and get them and they weren’t there,” Melin said. “I was so frustrated because I spent $30 on cookies.”

Shortly after that, on March 31, sophomore Rubin Jain’s order was stolen.

“The DoorDash carrier took a picture of it on the table and when I went it was not there,” Jain said, “I contacted DoorDash and they gave me my money back.”

Students have been getting their DoorDash orders stolen for months. Senior Ella Hofer, who had her order swiped two months ago.

“People wait there [DoorDash table]  before the bell rings,” Hofer said. “[My order] got stolen, which does not make sense to me because they [the thieves]  cannot even pick the food they want. Why would you want to eat somebody’s personalized Chipotle order?”

Like Hofer, a month ago, sophomore Brennan Tom had his food order stolen twice.

“I came down, maybe like a minute later, and it was taken,” Tom said. “I even saw my coach, he was like ‘You order DoorDash? I just saw some girl walk off with it.’ and I am like ‘Huh.’”

Tom ran around the school looking for his food afterwards. When he ordered the next day, his DoorDash was stolen again, and this time he said it was for more than $150 of food.

In fact, senior Dhriti Avala said she has had her order stolen during each in-person high school year

On April 1, Osborn made an announcement about someone owning up to stealing someone’s food over the loudspeaker about DoorDash orders.

“I had a student get caught taking someone else’s DoorDash,” Osborn said, “[The student and I] brainstormed ways to make it right. I didn’t know all the victims who had their DoorDash taken. So, I made the announcement and tried to identify who had their DoorDash taken to make things right.”

Osborn said this was the first time the school made an announcement about a stolen DoorDash order.

“We [Cal administration] do not take responsibility [for stolen food],” Osborn said.

In fact, a sign taped to the DoorDash table states that. The sign reads: “This area is not monitored. Administrators assume no responsibility for theft of food left here.”

This sign is not much of a deterrent to one chronic DoorDash thief, who was caught by the person whose order he was stealing.

“Instead of asking me for [the food] back, [the person I stole from] went to Mr. Osborn and described me and said ‘This kid took my food,’”said the sophomore boy who stole the DoorDash order. “I fessed up about [stealing] another four or five meals.”

The Californian is not naming the student because he is a minor who has violated school policy.  He said he stole the food simply because he was hungry. As punishment, he had to pick up trash around campus.

When possible, administrators said they try to have a staff member regulate the table during lunch.

The table is most frequently used by students right before lunch if they forgot to pack something to eat, plan on staying at Cal after school, or want to treat themselves to a special snack.

Some students try to avoid the possibility of having anything stolen from the table by having food dropped off at different locations on campus.

“I have had to kick Door Dashers off campus,” Osborn said. “People have arranged for DoorDashers to drop off between the main building and world language. I am not having random people drive through campus where kids are hanging out at lunch time.”

Despite the chance of orders being stolen, students still appreciate the table and the ability to DoorDash food.

“It is a simple system and it works if everyone does the right thing,” attendance secretary Marilyn McCarty said.

The option to have food delivered to school has led to some expensive addictions.

“I try not to spend that much,” said Lunsford, who DoorDashes regularly. “I am spending this much on cheap food that is not even good for me. It makes me irrationally angry. It is a never-ending struggle.”

Through ordering food students have developed some practices to ensure  they acquire their food before it is stolen.

“If you are going to DoorDash you have to be thorough,” Lunsford said. “[I] tell [the DoorDasher] what I am wearing, and leave a note saying please hand it off to me.”