Pickup orders stolen from Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine

The restaurant has seen a handful of orders — often large ones — swiped every week since the beginning of the pandemic.

by Emily Lu | 8/20/21 5:00am

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by Alison Zeng / The Dartmouth Staff

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine has experienced a slew of stolen pickup orders, according to management. These orders are left out on a counter near the entryway of the restaurant to allow for contactless pickup. 

Carryout orders are stolen two to three times each week, according to Ken Pace, husband of Tuk Tuk owner Pannipa Pace. He said that customers are “very irate” about the situation, which he understands: When orders are stolen, the restaurant must redo the process of preparing the order. 

“It’s very unfortunate,” Pace said. “... There’s not really much we can do about it because we have to leave [the food] out there, because it makes it convenient for everybody.”

Pace added that the restaurant has cameras installed by the entryway where orders are placed and has footage of people stealing meals. However, he said he does not want to single out students or other members of the community. 

Hanover Police lieutenant Mike Schibuola said that he is not aware of any recent issues with stolen food orders and that the department has not received any reports of theft from Tuk Tuk.

Pace said that generally, individuals who steal will order a meal or two, but when they go to pick up their order, they leave with more than just their dishes — snatching much larger $100-or-more orders from the counter. 

“It’s one thing if someone’s hungry — I’m more than happy to feed them,” Pace said. “I’d truly be happy to give people food if they needed it.”

Given the convenience of contactless pickup, Pace said he anticipates that the system will continue after the pandemic despite the thefts. 

Other than Pace, owners of local restaurants and businesses said they have not experienced food theft problems. 

Owner and CEO of Lou’s Restaurant Jarett Berke Tu’17 wrote in an emailed statement that when carryout orders are missing, it is because of “a simple error” on the customer’s part or because the person who put the food out mistakenly separated parts of an order. Lou’s utilizes a system of contactless pickup similar to that of TukTuk’s near the doorway of the restaurant. 

Jewel of India owner Surjit Kaur wrote that Jewel has not experienced stolen carryout orders. Still North Books and Bar, which offers contactless pickup for books and other orders, has also not had any issues, according to owner Allie Levy ’11.

Snackpass, the online food ordering platform used by many Dartmouth students, did not reply to a request for comment. 

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