Missouri is in its third year of medical marijuana. The crime was low until lately. It started with burglary of under-construction facilities and minor theft employing easy sleight-of-hand skills budtenders should be aware of.
Recently, dispensary burglaries in St. Louis have been a hot topic. However, they are not limited to that area. Burglaries are widespread, especially at high-value facilities like medical marijuana dispensaries.
Crime waves are common. The Missouri medical marijuana community is being burglarized. Robberies often follow. Differentiating between a burglary and a robbery is key.
Though these crimes are similar, they have major characteristics. Nevertheless, people often use the term “robbery” when it is a burglary. Robbery involves the use or threat of a dangerous weapon or bodily injury to a victim.
Burglary is entering or staying illegally in a building to commit a crime. Forcible entry and theft are different crimes. In Saint Louis, forcible intrusion into unoccupied dispensaries to take product/cash falls under the category of burglary.
Now that you know the crimes that could damage your medical marijuana business, we will examine prevention techniques. Not everything will apply to every situation or facility, but we will offer ideas.
We all need surveillance cameras per DHSS requirements. If your cameras are not monitored in real time, they become more of an investigative tool than a crime prevention tool, though they will deter some crimes.
Ensure that your surveillance footage is well-lit (particularly after closing) and that the cameras can observe all entry/exit points (doors and windows). Keep valuables out of dark corners and cameras’ view.
To prevent petty theft/shoplifting, keep products out of reach of patients/customers and do not hand them anything until they buy it. Shoplifters typically use sleight-of-hand and diversion techniques and are so rapid that the theft is not caught until after they are gone or until a random video audit or product inventory is done.
Keep your vault doors locked, even during business hours. Only management should access the vault, and only when necessary. Leaving it unlocked or open makes opportunity theft more likely.
After hours, keep valuables out of sight from outside the business. Every night, lock up all merchandise and cash in the vault. Nothing should be on the sales floor or easily accessible if someone gets into your business.
Security measures inside and out
A popular burglary MO is “forced entry” or “smash and grab.” The objective is usually to get in and out quickly, causing extensive property damage. A brick/stone/rock (typically one from the business’s landscaping) is used to break the glass to gain admission.
A prying tool is used to open commercial doors (frequently at back doors). In other cases, thieves drive a stolen vehicle through the storefront.
Criminals know that even if a business has an alarm system, there is a wait between the alarm company calling the police and the police arriving, so they have time to grab as much as possible and leave. You can take reasonable and pricey steps to make your firm a harder target.
Illumination: Ensure your business has appropriate lighting inside and out, even when closed. This helps your security cameras to see better and stops crooks from hiding in the dark. Neighbours can see anything out of the norm if your location is well-lit.
Motion lights, motion sensors, and sound alarms can inform you if someone is on your property or business when they should not be. Doors that open out lessen the risk of being kicked in. Latch guards over hardware and reinforcing doors with a bar inside prevent forced/pried open doors.
More expensive but more effective are pull-down security gates for doors and windows. Concrete pillars or heavy planters outside a storefront might block cars from driving in. When it comes to glass and storefronts, “less is best,” but if you are not starting from scratch, you may not have that option.
Glass can be strengthened with security film or bars/gates to prevent intrusion. The security of your firm should be your priority.
Research by the National Retailers Association indicated that shoplifters saw security guards as the most effective theft deterrent. When entering a facility, customers/patients initially encounter a security guard.
How do you pick a security guard?Is your security guard polite and helpful? Can they relate to clients/patients? What are their credentials? Have they established a command presence that indicates “this is not the business criminals want to target”?
Do they keep “bad guys” away and clients/patients returning? A guard with the above talents and traits is expensive. An untrained gunman can be worse than no security at all. Be sensible.
The best-trained security guard can not prevent everything, yet doing nothing is careless. Legal advice is advised. Good security guards are crucial but will not prevent burglaries if they are not on duty after hours or at midnight.
The high expense of security is one of the first things cut from a budget. A security company can watch your cameras overnight if you can not staff a security guard when your business is closed.
Studies reveal that 30-45% of retail fraud involves employee theft. Whether it is the employee conducting the theft, employee fraud, or an employee supporting others in stealing from the company (via unlawful discounts or by providing inside information), this is a big problem that organizations can not ignore.
Below are techniques to stop employee stealing.
- Better your employees. All new hires should undergo drug testing, criminal record, reference, credit, and employment verification. People who have committed theft/burglary/robbery before are likely to do it again, and those in debt are more prone to steal.
A person’s employment gaps may be related to prison time. Poor credit, employment gaps, or a criminal record do not inherently make someone a liability, but you should be mindful of them before hiring.
- Pay workers more. A higher income reduces theft.
Policies & Procedures
- Establish explicit standards that define inappropriate behaviour and what will happen if someone steals.
- Follow your own rules and hold others accountable. As rules relax, so do behaviours.
- Employees and management should be trained to prevent and handle internal and external theft. Luckily, DHSS requires this.
- Train your personnel to spot theft.
Look out for strange vehicles and customers/support staff who may be casing the business. Thieves frequently do not steal the first time they break in. They want to estimate their danger of getting caught vs chance of receiving what they desire.
Allow employees to report illegal or unethical conduct. Several places allow anonymous tips for this. Create an incentives system for employees who help find and stop thieves. Make work fun.
Employees that appreciate their boss will not betray them. This helps eliminate stealing due to revenge. Limit access to locations and information.
This ensures employee responsibility and reduces the number of suspects if something goes missing. Keys and safe combinations should only be given to management.
Only individuals designated to receive deliveries need to know about deliveries. If a lock, vault, motion or alarm sensor, etc., is faulty, only certain people should know, and it must be fixed fast.
Monitor technology. If you watch and examine security footage, it can be a huge benefit. Pay attention to persons who avoid cameras or keep their hands hidden.
Regularly audit and stock. This helps you find theft you were not aware of. Business leaders must balance key issues. What is more important, employee and asset safety or profit? Both are crucial for corporate success in a competitive industry.
If workers feel unsafe, will they stay and perform well? Will customers come if they do not feel safe?
Safety and security should be a concern with medical marijuana. Adult-use guidelines are pending, so facility owners should focus on security. Crime will rise.
More sites will be targeted. Some questions for facility owners: Were we ready for more crime?
Have we done everything to keep employees, customers, and products/assets safe? Is our security program enough?
Ask your security director to conduct a facility audit if you do not know the answers. If you do not have a security director or are unavailable, KC Cann Transport and other security companies can help with a charge. Always use a recognized individual or company.
Time will tell who takes these attacks seriously. Do not bet. Crime prevention is a valid word.
Make sure criminals avoid your location because it is easier than circumventing your security. Smart people take safety seriously. There is no do-over sometimes.