As the pandemic surged across the nation, New York City wore a desolate look as much of it had been shut down. However, several thousands of delivery workers were on the streets, carrying food to several residents in the city. These workers not only braved weather conditions and more but also risked their lives as they were robbed and not only lost electric bikes but were sometimes injured and had to seek treatment in hospitals.
Two such workers decided to stop this by starting a group called the “Delivery Boys.” They patrol areas that are isolated including the entrance and exits of bridges. Sergio Solano and Juan Tapia started such a group. Tapia told CBS News that they did not want to fight with anybody but only wanted to protect themselves.
The New York Times also reported of a Delivery Boys group with 39-year Vicente Carrasco and his close friend Jose Nevares. Most of these groups communicate through Facebook where there are several such groups. They also use WhatsApp to recruit workers and to inform workers.
Many of these workers are undocumented migrants or don’t have sufficient information to report the thefts of their electric bikes which can cost $2000 or more. Some of them also feel that the New York Police Department (NYPD) does consider the theft of these bikes to be a major issue.
Delivery workers have sometimes been violently attacked, or have accidents or crashes. When they seek treatment, most of them pay for the medical expenses from their own pockets, leading to a further drain in income. So, they “decided to take matters into their own hands,” according to Hildalyn Colon, director of an advocacy group called Los Deliveristas Unidos (United Delivery Workers).
While welcoming the move by delivery workers, representatives of the NYPD said that they supported people who were willing to keep their and ears open and to help them. They also asked the delivery workers not to get involved in enforcement and that they should inform the police. Chief Rodney Harrison said that they should “let the professionals do it.” The department also said that they had increased police patrols in areas including northern Manhattan and Queens where there was a higher possibility of bike thefts.