Pizza and bear: Hungry animal breaks into delivery driver’s car

Dude, where’s the pizza?
Dude, where’s the pizza?
Photo: Stan Tekiela Author / Naturalist / Wildlife Photographer (Getty Images)

Andrew Fairchild delivers pizzas for Juneau Pizza in Juneau, Alaska. One of the hazards of this job is that his car always smells like pizza, even if there’s no pizza in it. This past Thursday night/Friday morning, Fairchild was awakened at 3 a.m. by a black bear that had been attracted by the pizza smell and broken into his car.

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There was no pizza in the car because Fairchild was off duty. That didn’t stop the bear from conducting a thorough search—smells like food, so there must be food—and completely trashing the interior. In its rage and desperation, the bear honked the horn several times (or maybe it was just clumsy), which woke Fairchild and his neighbors up.

“I think it was the delicious smell of the pizza that drove the bear to the point where he could not resist the urge to go into the car,” Fairchild told the Juneau Empire. “It’s pretty totaled on the inside. The seat belt was ripped completely out. The panel where the stereo is (is) ripped off.”

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After failing to find pizza in Fairchild’s car, the bear decided to investigate Fairchild’s daughter’s minivan. (The Empire says “the bear was released” from the car—but by whom? and why?) But after it got the door opened, it detected no pizza smells and left the car undamaged. This bear is totally smarter than the average bear!

Bears breaking into cars is a common enough occurrence in Juneau that by Friday, Fairchild’s insurance company had already given the okay for the car to be sent to the shop for repair. The bear itself remains at large. Roy Churchwell, a biologist from the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game, told the Empire that if the agency managed to capture the bear, the bear would have to be euthanized: “Breaking into cars brings it up to that next level of damage.”

It’s been a busy summer for the bears in Juneau. Churchwell said that at least two of them have figured out how to break into cars and warned the public at large to avoid storing food in cars and to keep the doors locked.

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Juneau Pizza, meanwhile, refuses to give the bears special treatment. “No playing favorites,” the pizzeria posted on its Facebook account. “If the bear wants a pizza, he has to call it in just like everyone else.”

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Bad advice and you’d think a bear biologist would know better. A locked door won’t stop a bear breaking in, but it will make it harder for the bear to break back out again. Then the first responders have to deal with a trapped, angry, and hungry bear.

That is not a good combination. Leave the door unlocked so the bear can get back out again.