A woman in a domestic violence situation managed to call 911 without the perpetrator realising, by pretending to order a pizza.
Officers in Oregon city, Ohio, praised the caller’s quick thinking, which led to the alleged abuser being arrested.
The unnamed woman told local media her mum was being attacked at the time.
This tactic for subtly calling the emergency services has been internet lore for years, but this is a rare confirmed case of it being effective.
Officials have previously warned that the strategy is not guaranteed to work, as dispatchers are not trained to recognise a pizza order as a genuine call for help.
The dispatcher, who answered the call, Tim Teneyck, told local news station 13 ABC he initially thought the woman had dialed an incorrect number.
When she insisted she was through to the right person, he realised what was happening – partly because he had seen similar scenarios being shared on social media.
“You see it on Facebook, but it’s not something that anybody has ever been trained for,” Mr Teneyck said. “Other dispatchers that I’ve talked to would not have picked up on this. They’ve told me they wouldn’t have picked up on this.”
Here’s a transcript of the conversation.
Mr Teneyck: Oregon 911
Caller: I would like to order a pizza at [address redacted].
Mr Teneyck: You called 911 to order a pizza?
Caller: Uh, yeah. Apartment [redacted].
Mr Teneyck: This is the wrong number to call for a pizza…
Caller: No, no, no. You’re not understanding.
Mr Teneyck: I’m getting you now.
Later in the call, the woman found creative ways to answer Mr Teneyck’s yes or no questions about how much danger she and her mother were in, and what services they needed.
Mr Teneyck: Is the other guy still there?
Caller: Yep, I need a large pizza.
Mr Teneyck: All right. How about medical, do you need medical?
Caller: No. With pepperoni.
It is unclear where exactly the idea originated, but a very similar scenario was used in a campaign by the Norwegian Women’s Shelter Association in 2010.
Four years later, in May 2014, a user on discussion website Reddit claiming to be a 911 operator described a domestic abuse victim calling to order a pizza. They wrote that the call “started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious” before describing a conversation similar to the one Mr Tenyck had.