Two cannabis dispensaries in San Jose were broken into early Tuesday morning by groups of thieves hoping for a big score – the latest crime in a trend of looters, burglars and robbers targeting pharmacies in the Bay Area and across the country.
The pattern emerged when major cities, including San Jose, imposed curfews to control protests against the police brutality sparked by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man by Minneapolis police last month.
Many of these crimes have resulted in high scores for the thieves, including groups who got away with at least $ 10,000 product from a San Francisco pharmacy and more than $ 100,000 from a Boston pharmacy.
But a group of potential thieves in San Jose had turned up empty-handed after a failed attempt. And a second group could only get away with a small amount of product.
The first group of about 20 people who defeated Timothy Dr. kicking the glass doors – three and a half hours after a city-wide curfew imposed by the San Jose Police Department – was evacuated by a single security officer before they could steal anything.
And a second group of about 10 people who pried open doors at Harborside on N 10th St. between 12:30 PM and 12:45 PM got away with groceries and cannabis concentrates worth a few thousand dollars.
Sean Kali-rai, founder of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, says the thieves took advantage of the police brutality protests in San Jose a week after Floyd’s death.
“There’s always a criminal element everywhere,” Kali-rai said. “In this case, criminals used peaceful protests against the death of George Floyd and the curfew in San Jose and other cities to commit these crimes.
“Fortunately, San Jose has really tough regulations that help discourage these types of actions and make them really difficult to get away with,” concluded the industry lobbyist.
Elemental Wellness CEO Joe LoMonaco said the criminals targeting his business appeared to appear “out of nowhere” after a lookout signaled that a security guard had left shortly after midnight. One of the potential thieves smashed the glass on the street doors of Timothy Dr. and then entered it. The group – many of them wore bags and pillowcases to fill themselves with stolen goods – then rushed in, only to be driven back a few seconds later by the guard who had arrived before midnight for shift change.
“It’s only funny because no one got hurt and nothing was stolen – but we’re going to see it now and it’s a sight to see 20 people storm into the front doors, followed by a guard ten seconds later,” said LoMonaco San José in the spotlight.
LoMonaco added that this is the first time in 10 years that Elemental has been attacked by intruders in San Jose.
Thieves used bolt cutters to open this refrigerator and steal cannabis concentrates and groceries from Harborside in San Jose early Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Harborside.
Pedro Fonseca, general manager of Harborside’s five pharmacies, said his stores had been targeted before – but never by such a large group.
“Criminals assume the pharmacies are only full of cash and products, but the regulations are very strict in San Jose,” said Fonseca. “And we follow them to the letter, so everything on the back is under lock and key – not accessible from the sales area – and we were well protected.”
Fonseca said the thieves who got away with products worth a few thousand dollars took advantage of the protests against Floyd’s murder.
Floyd was killed on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer who was seen on video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. The Elemental and Harborside break-ins are the latest in a string of crimes against cannabis dispensaries in the Bay Area and across the country since police brutality protests erupted across the country in response to the video.
While police cursed peaceful protesters and imposed curfews over the weekend, several shops in the East Bay and San Francisco were also destroyed, looted or robbed.
In Oakland, the owner of Magnolia Wellness said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the store was “robbed by an armed group and lost almost everything”. ECO Cannabis – an Oakland pharmacy that has been licensed through an equity program to help communities disproportionately damaged by the ban – The Oakland location in Blüm and Harborside was also attacked by thieves over the weekend.
Berkeleyside reports that two of the city’s pharmacies – Cannabis Buyers Club Berkeley and Farmacy Berkeley – were hit by thieves multiple times on Saturday and Sunday.
About 10 pharmacies in San Francisco were also affected, including Dutchman’s Flat in Dogpatch, Dr. Greenthumb in the Mission District and Moe Green’s on Market Street. KRON 4 reports that California Street cannabis was robbed and lost products worth at least $ 10,000.
After two of its Los Angeles stores were ransacked over the weekend, national chain Med Men temporarily closed all stores – including its San Jose location on N. 10th Street.
These crimes are also part of a nationwide trend of criminals aiming to hit pharmacies with stores in Cleveland and Chicago.