Across the country, businesses have seen an increase in thefts as the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted industries in every sector. Many businesses were required to close temporarily and found themselves the targets of criminals looking for easy victims and empty storefronts. Although most cannabis businesses were deemed essential and were able to remain open, many still found themselves victims of crime – targeted by thieves aware of increasing sales and industry reliance on cash.
Cannabis Dispensary Burglaries
Businesses in places like New York City and Chicago have reported an increase in burglaries, and cannabis dispensaries have not been immune. Police in the City of Denver reported 10 cannabis business robberies in the first 2 weeks of April alone. Although statistics show that 2019 had more burglaries than previous years, it is likely that 2020 will surpass this number. Over 30 burglaries have already been reported in Denver for this year.
Although police in Denver had issued a bulletin warning cannabis businesses about the threat of increasing burglaries, these crimes continued to occur through April. Police believe that criminals continue to target cannabis businesses looking to steal cannabis as well as cash. At the beginning of the pandemic, long lines were reported at multiple dispensaries as people rushed to buy cannabis, unsure of what the next few months would bring.
In response to increasing safety mandates, states have relaxed cannabis restrictions to allow for online pick-up and delivery orders. In Colorado, they have also allowed workers furloughed from casinos to work in cannabis businesses to keep up with the increasing sales.
But thieves are looking to take advantage of thriving cannabis dispensaries allowed to remain open. Research shows that even in areas where dispensaries were closed, crime continued to rise, indicating that closures are not a solution to this problem. But there are things cannabis business owners can do to guarantee their facilities are secure.
Tips to Ensure Facility Security
There are a few tips that cannabis businesses can follow to protect their products and employees and ensure they are not inviting unwanted crime:
1.) At the end of operating hours, all cannabis and cannabis products should be inventoried and accounted for. All cannabis and cannabis products should be stored in a secure vault or TL-rated safe overnight.
2.) Display cases should always be empty during non-operating hours. Businesses should not attempt to cover the cases. If the facility has windows, let thieves see that there is nothing to steal.
3.) Ensure the outside perimeter of the facility appears secure. Appearances can be everything. If the outside of the business appears dilapidated, i.e. leaning fences or graffiti, thieves may assume the facility is an easy target.
4.) Video cameras should be placed in obvious, highly visible locations and should be pointed at all entrances to the facility, the parking lot, and sides, alleys, and back of the store. Put up signage to let potential criminals know that the property is under surveillance.
5.) Video footage should be monitored by either a third-party company or by an onsite security guard. Security guards should have access to a video monitor from within the facility and should patrol the exterior of the facility at irregular intervals.
6.) Continuous alarm systems should be installed and should be tested regularly to ensure the system is in working order.
7.) Leave more interior and exterior lights on than normal at the facility. Lighting discourages criminal acts and does not allow them to commit crimes under the cover of darkness.
8.) A security expert should examine the facilities’ security and safety measures to ensure they will adequately protect the facility.
Regardless of if a cannabis business is required to temporarily close, there are ways to prepare for closure and secure the property. Although this pandemic has been difficult to adjust to, cannabis business owners can rest easy knowing they have done everything they can to protect their businesses, their products, and their people.