With four more burglaries over the weekend, crime against St. Louis area dispensaries has become a pandemic for operators in the state.
After more than 18 months of relative quiet in the St. Louis area, burglaries have grown at a rampant pace this summer, with dozens of attempts. While many dispensaries have not faced significant losses in terms of material, no facility walks away unscathed.
As the frequency and severity of these attempts continue to escalate, industry professionals are becoming increasingly aware of their vulnerabilities.
On Sunday, Star Buds in Festus was targeted – but recent updates squandered what could have been a catastrophe for the dispensary.
“With the recent string of break-ins and photos of the aftermath at other locations, we knew we had to beef up our system, just to be on the safe side,” explained Star Buds’ Chris Chesley.
“We recently consulted with industry experts, reinforced doors and added additional security measures at both of our locations.”
Less than 8 hours later, that investment paid dividends. Over the weekend Star Buds implemented those measures, installing reinforcements at entry points throughout the buildings.
”I feel very lucky,” Chesley continued. “We learned from our partners in the industry and we took steps to prevent loss of product and it worked.”
The Star Buds Festus dispensary location underwent physical security improvements over the weekend, less than eight hours later those improvements were tested.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…or marijuana in this case,” Corey Randall said. Randall is the Vice President, of KC Protective Services and KC Cann Transport, one of the state’s leading transportation and security companies. “Star Buds has been paying attention to all the burglaries taking place in the St. Louis metro area and decided to beef up their security just in the nick of time,” Randall told Greenway.
The new entry reinforcements and enhanced security measures were effective. Video footage shows the perpetrators struggling to gain entry, perplexed by why they couldn’t gain access to the dispensary’s showroom floor as they had in previous instances. After roughly three minutes with no progress the thieves abandoned their attempts.
“As we suggested previously, Star Buds was able to identify a possible weak point in their facility and added additional security measures. What cost them a little bit of time and money to install, paid off in dividends by preventing access to the sales floor and vault when the thieves decided to try their luck and had to leave empty-handed.”
Then they resorted to a tactic that has been implemented more frequently in recent weeks, they attempted to ram the rear door of the facility in a vehicle. The steel door and steel frame encased in concrete didn’t budge. With no access to the facility, the culprits abandoned their attempt on Star Buds and fled the scene.
“These crimes are clearly evolving, what started as smash and grabs through the front window has moved to driving cars through,” explained Joe Patterson of Patterson and Associates. Patterson serves on the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association’s Transportation, Security, and Technology Advisory Board. “These criminals are evolving and updating their tactics – as operators you should be paying attention to those tactics and updating your physical security elements.”
“The security regulations are stronger in Missouri than in other states, but they should still act as a floor and not a ceiling – operators should be prepared to exceed those requirements where it’s financially and operationally possible,” Patterson continued. “Security elements are one-time expenses. Bollards are not cheap, but they slow cars down. Physical security measures are one time purchases, you just have to rip off the band-aid and do it – the cumulative cost over five years greatly outweighs the cost to install these security features.”
While Star Buds will have to make repairs, the stark contrast between the attempts at Star Buds and the successful burglary attempts we have seen in recent weeks should be encouraging to operators. There will be no multi-week closure, there is no loss of product, and the damage to the facility is minute in comparison to some other impacted facilities.
“This is exactly what we want to see. Identify potential weaknesses in your security measures and access points into your facilities and take steps to harden your target,” Randall concluded.
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