Pot businesses magnet to crimes

Ram raiders hit two Vancouver pot dispensaries in weekend looting spree
By Nick Eagland, The Province May 30, 2015
A wave of thefts has hit Vancouver pot businesses over the past two weeks, including two apparent ram-raiding attempts on medical marijuana dispensaries early Saturday.....click "Read More" below to continue.....

Thieves drove a van through the front windows of Stressed and Depressed Association dispensary at 1353 E. 41st Ave. around 4:20 a.m. Saturday, manager Chad Rowsell said.

They made off with about $6,000 worth of marijuana, hash oil, edibles and other pot products.

The thieves didn’t gain access to the dispensary’s backroom, where more products were stored, but they did cause significant damage to the building, Rowsell said.

“I’m always concerned about this s — t happening, I have been from day one,” he added.

He said police were investigating the robbery but he’d learned that a suspect was taken into custody in South Vancouver later that morning.

He pointed out the irony in the exact time of the break-in: “4/20” is an oft-used code word for cannabis and its use.

The dispensary will be looking at security upgrades, including the installation of concrete bollards in front of the building, Rowsell said.

It will also be hosting an art auction and fundraiser June 18 to help recoup costs.

Shortly after the dispensary was hit, the same thieves drove their van into the Canna Clinic dispensary at 2347 E. Hastings St., according to Rowsell.

No one from Canna Clinic was available for comment, but one of the dispensary’s front windows had been smashed and a sliding metal gate on the property appeared severely damaged Saturday morning.

The storefront was surrounded by police tape and two people were outside sweeping up broken glass. It’s unclear if anything was stolen.

The dispensary reopened Saturday afternoon, according to a post to its Twitter account.

No one from the Vancouver Police Department was available for comment before press time Saturday.

Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters (CCHQ) store at 307 W. Hastings St. — which isn’t a dispensary but sells smoking equipment and pot-themed merchandise — was broken into overnight May 22.

Emery’s wife Jodie said last week that it was a mystery how the thieves got in, but she noted CCHQ has been broken into by “very inventive” people in the past.

The perpetrators destroyed an empty cash register and made off with more than $1,500 worth of bongs and 16 boxes of rolling papers.

Ignite Smoke Shop in Gastown, which sells vaporizers, bongs and other smoking equipment, was also broken into May 22.

Scales and butane torches valued at a few hundred dollars were taken during the smash-and-grab, said manager Gabby Dionne, who suspects it was a crime of opportunity rather than a targeted theft.

Two weeks ago, the Vancouver Seed Bank — which sells seeds from marijuana and other plants — had its location above the CCHQ store plundered, according to an employee.

“There seems to have been a rash of them (break-ins) recently,” said the staffer, who identified himself as Patrick.

“I’m not certain if it’s all one person or if it’s a group of different people.”

He said the thief or thieves entered through a window and made off with “a good value” of specific seeds, which suggested they knew what they were looking for.

The business is still assessing the value of the damage and of the products taken.

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