Some cannabis shop owners in Calgary are increasing security measures after being targeted by thieves.
Lake City Cannabis was robbed back in September, reportedly by three men who said they were armed.
“They entered the store just five minutes before we were about to close,” owner Ryan Roch told Global News.
“One individual jumped the counter over to our staff and immediately detained him.”
Roch said the other two then proceeded to break the locks on some display cases, stealing the product inside.
“We figure they took about $9,000 worth of products,” he said. “They luckily were not able to make away with any cash. ”
“It was very, very awful for our team and everyone involved in this.”
There has been a rise in robberies at cannabis stores across Calgary. There have been 19 to date in 2021. Police said that’s at least double the number reported in 2020.
In some cases, the stores have been targeted repeatedly and the thieves have brandished weapons.
Police added that like pharmacy robberies, thefts at cannabis stores are usually violent.
“It’s an aggressive-style takeover,” Acting Det. Anthony Thompson said. “They don’t just walk in and meander. They rush in, they rush over, they jump over the counter.”
Police also said it is quite difficult to find the culprits of any robbery due to the fact everyone is masked up.
Thompson said shop owners may want to adopt “controlled access entry.”
“Leave the door locked, let them (customers) ring the doorbell,” he advised. “Make them remove their mask, show some ID at the door, and then let them in.”
Roch has been working with police to ramp up security at his store.
He has also called on government and industry regulators to improve visibility and safety at cannabis stores, especially when it comes to storefronts. Right now most have an opaque covering on them.
Roch would like to see that changed to something else.
“Anything that would help increase visibility into the store,” he added. “So that anybody on the outside could see in and obviously our staff could see on the outside and be better prepared for what’s (who’s) coming in.”
Alberta Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis (AGLC) told Global News it does not require retailers to cover their external windows, but the federal cannabis act does prohibit the display of cannabis or cannabis accessories where a young person can see them.
AGLC said retailers have other options to keep products out of sight and still comply with legislation.
Roch said those other options would require a massive renovation, which he does not have the money for, especially as he recovers from this latest loss.
“We’re just a small, independent mom and pop shop. We don’t have a lot of money. We operate as lean as we can,” he said. “This really hurts.”