With cannabis retailers around the country becoming regular targets for thieves and criminals, one shop in Seattle had a particularly harrowing experience when a man held a gun to a customer’s neck during a November armed robbery and made off with $7,000 cash and a small amount of product, all in less than a minute.
The incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the Uncle Ike’s retail store in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood. Nobody was injured, including the customer.
Security cameras show three men first appearing outside the shop with guns drawn at 21 seconds past 11:33 p.m. At 24 seconds, they forced their way past the security guard, who immediately put his hands up.
“They came storming in,” said Chad Alabe, head of security for the Uncle Ike’s chain. “They looked like they knew exactly what they wanted to do.”
At 26 seconds past 11:33 p.m., the first suspect into the store jumped the counter as the customer headed for the door, prompting the other two men to go after him and stop him, holding him to the floor at gunpoint in the doorway at 32 seconds past. At 36 seconds past, the employee is forced into another room to open the safe. At 2 seconds past 11:34 p.m., the suspects are out the door and gone.
“They were in and out,” Alabe said.
Alabe said security guards are trained to “not be heroes” in the event of a robbery and in the video, the guard is seen with his hands up, mainly focusing on the safety of the customer who tried to flee the store. Alabe said the guard and employee have both been offered support including time off and counseling. Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg has also reached out to the customer, who Alabe said was a regular.
Alabe said in his seven years with the company this is only the second armed robbery he has seen and noted that this is the first time he has seen the suspects go primarily for cash instead of product. He said crimes against cannabis retailers are only increasing, however, with criminals willing to “take more chances” and he believes penalties should be increased to match those of bank robberies.
“It’s getting ridiculous,” Alabe said.
The three suspects were still at large as of publication.
— Brian Beckley