A manager of a Sonic in St. Joseph, Mo., recently staged a lunchtime mugging, recruiting someone to enter the restaurant with a real-looking toy gun and hold it to an employee's head. Problem was, employees weren't the only ones taken by surprise: When authorities received frantic reports from panicked customers of a potential hostage situation, they sped to the restaurant to resolve it.
"The officers quickly determined this was a training exercise," St. Joseph Police Department commander Jim Connors recounts. "We forcefully got the message across that's not expected behavior."
Sonic did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment, so it's unclear whether the manager was following a corporate directive. Connors reports the St. Joe police also contacted Sonic in the wake of the incident, but have not yet received a response.
No arrests were made in conjunction with the pseudo-crime.
Fast food restaurants are frequently targeted by robbers: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dozens of fast food workers are killed every year, usually in the course of late-night armed robberies. Asked whether St. Joe's fast food restaurants have been plagued by violent crime, Connors said "No."
"If you're going to do this," he added, "At least do it when customers aren't there."