By Patrick Wagner
Across the country, states have become steadily more accepting of cannabis, either for medicinal or recreational use, in lieu of scrutinizing the plant for its black market roots. This change of heart led to a boom in medical marijuana dispensaries across the U.S., as well as recreational retailers in Washington and Colorado.
Anti-marijuana lobbyists have often championed that accepting the marijuana trade would be the lynchpin that would trigger a spike in neighborhood crime rates. As time has passed, most research indicates that to be nothing more than fear-mongering.
Still, the newest green currency just happens to also be one of the oldest and many who still cling to the black market shadows find the allure of an unmanned, cash only dispensary too much to resist. In spite of the cameras, the fences, the actual warning signs placed in windows and along entrances, burglars still try to beat the odds and make a getaway into the night. Often these failed capers still offer good lessons for small business owners who wish to learn from these would-be Ocean 11s.
SEATTLE — An unusual break-in occurred at Choice Wellness Center in North Seattle, when a burglar drilled through an adjacent bathroom wall to rob the dispensary.
The burglar broke into the laundry room housed in the lower level of the same building, ascended the stairwell in order to cut through a wall shared between the apartment community and the Choice Wellness Center.
Owner Dawn Darington’s business has been burglarized three times in the two years since she opened her doors in 2012. In this case the burglar looks to be the same individual that committed the previous robberies and security camera footage obtained from the dispensary helps to solidify that notion.
“We’ve certainly jacked up our security,” Darington told Marijuana Venture.
“Motion lights are really some of the best security you can have,” she said. “Most people don’t realize that.”
Darington stressed the effectiveness of motion lighting, citing her early days as a security specialist. She also encouraged the use of high-end deadbolts to detour criminals.
Darington also warned about the reliance on panic alarms, noting that the police will outright ignore them. She encourages a good line of communication with the local authorities and a good security company that will call the police directly.
Deadbeats defeat deadbolts
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Southeast Portland dispensary was robbed of 10 marijuana plants after Bradley Smith, 48, kicked in the dispensary’s front door and began uprooting the plants. FOX 12 in Portland reported that store owner Nathan Little was notified of the burglary by a call from his security company.
Little then notified the police, who caught Smith a block from the scene. The police returned the stolen plants to the dispensary, however Little said that the plants were beyond salvaging.
Smith was identified from the surveillance cameras that showed him kicking down the door and stealing the plants. Although Smith was booked on a second-degree burglary charge, Little was still unable to supply all of his patients due to the unforeseen loss, FOX 12 reported.
As per the investigation, local authorities speculated that the break-in could’ve been avoided altogether if the dispensary was fortified with a more secure door.
A similar string of three break-ins in North Seattle circulate around a pattern of doors being simply kicked in. As in the Portland case, authorities emphasize the value of a secure door.
Alarm system aids investigation
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Police responded to a break-in that occurred at Soul Shine Medical Consulting in Breckenridge at roughly 1 a.m. to find that the suspect had already fled the scene through a back window. A walkthrough of the store by the Breckenridge officers revealed that no property was stolen in the burglary attempt, according to a story by the Summit Daily.
Investigators collected DNA samples from the break-in, theorizing that the suspect may have cut himself while entering through the broken window; however it is was suspected that it was the alarm that most likely triggered the suspect’s early departure.
Alongside the DNA evidence, the police were able to retrieve video of the break-in from an infrared surveillance camera installed at the facility. While the footage gave the police a rough description of the suspect, investigating officers noted that the race and facial characteristics of the suspect are still in question due to the limitations of the infrared camera.
The cameras and alarms that helped and notified the police were installed as per state law requirements and according to local authorities they were key tools that have led the investigation.
Child locks only keep out children
SEATTLE — Many times an unguarded window or overlooked backdoor incites even the dimmest crooks to try their luck. According to the Seattle police blog, SPD Blotter, two teens were arrested while in the process of burglarizing a dispensary.
One of the two teens was found looking out from the dispensary’s broken window when police arrived at the scene. The duo were caught in possession of a backpack filled with marijuana products and more than 50 marijuana joints, concentrates and containers.
Despite the youths’ naiveté, the robbery was foiled and the products were recovered. However when two teenage boys were able to enter the facility without a scratch, perhaps a security walkthrough should be in order.
Darington, the owner of a different dispensary, recalls her last burglar who had to cut through an adjacent wall to break into her dispensary.
“Nothing’s going to keep somebody out if they’re bound and determined to get in,” she said. “You just need to deter them enough that they just move down the street.”