Thieves target Denver’s cannabis dispensaries amid coronavirus pandemic

Thieves target Denver's cannabis dispensaries amid coronavirus pandemic

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

While much of the legal weed industry in the U.S. has gained momentum since the coronavirus panic erupted, Denver’s cannabis industry has taken a hit. Based on recent reports, there has been a surge in the number of burglaries taking place among state-licensed cannabis stores amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The local police force claims that drug-related crimes are on the increase across the state, where voters passed Colorado Amendment 64 on November 6, 2012; leading to legalization in January 2014. Nowadays, Colorado – and in particular Denver – is popular for cannabis tourism. 

Lack of tourism during the current health scare is pushing thieves to extreme lengths, with 10 burglaries being reported over a two-week period beginning on April 1. This is an increase compared with the entire month of April last year, when eight burglaries were reported.

Denver cannabis store burglaries hit three-year-high in 2019

Although the coronavirus situation could be contributing to the rise in Denver cannabis store burglaries, it seems that there has been a persistent problem for quite some time now. In 2019, 122 separate incidents of theft occurred within the city’s borders. Fast-forward to this year and the number of burglaries rests at 31 so far. 

Data shows that the number of Denver cannabis store burglaries has been rising on a monthly basis since 2020 started; in January, seven separate reports were filed with the Denver police; in February there were six incidents, whereas in 2019 there were just two; in March there were eight incidents, whereas in 2019 there were just four.

“We know that all of you have established new policies during this pandemic to limit the number of customers in your stores while practicing good social distancing recommendations,” Denver police wrote in the industry-wide bulletin. “If you have not done so already, please take this time to incorporate additional measures to prevent a crime from occurring at your business.”

Denver Police Department issues warnings to cannabis businesses 

In an attempt to help curb the number of thefts currently operating throughout Denver’s cannabis market, the city’s police department has published a bulletin for the attention of local cannabis business owners. Readers were advised to have visible security guards patrolling their retail property on a daily basis, as well as employ someone to monitor cameras and business exterior. 

Any store owner who experiences unusual activity from lingering customers should practice caution, says the Denver Police Department (DPD). Questions regarding the company’s preferences for cash-only payments, closing hours and the number of employees on-duty are likely to be a warning flag — a method used by thieves called “casing”. Additionally, individuals who seem to be monitoring the entry and exit points of a business should make retailers suspicious.

For companies that are still operating amid the COVID-19 crisis, the DPD recommends that business owners double-check if their cameras are functioning properly. Keeping as little cash on-hand as possible is also a recommended precautionary measure. Any suspicions must be reported to the DPD’s non-emergency number: +1 720-913-2000.