Despite $10 million in sales within the first five days of legal recreational cannabis, not every dispensary in Illinois is reaping in the benefits.
More than $100,000 in cash was stolen from Chicago dispensary MOCA Modern Cannabis on January 6. The burglary occurred around 3 a.m. when dispensary was closed for the night, so no staff or security personal were on-site at the facility.
What do we know?
Law enforcement officials do not believe that this burglary was random. It is possible that the multiple burglars that broke into the dispensary were familiar with the facility and may have used a legitimate keycard to enter through an access-controlled door.
MOCA may also have had more cash on-site than regular operations would normally permit. The dispensary was completely closed to recreational customers the day before the burglary due to high sales and a need to restock inventory. If the burglars did have intimate knowledge of the facility, they may have targeted that particular night due to the increased cash volume.
Illinois cannabis legislation requires 24/7 video surveillance and cannabis and cash storage within reinforced vaults. At this time, it is unclear how the burglars bypassed these security measures, but modern security systems and better utilization of active systems may have been able to prevent this crime.
How could this have been prevented?
Although the doors were connected to an access control system, suspects were still able to gain access to the dispensary at the early morning hour. If the burglars did indeed use a company-issued key card to enter, this burglary could still been prevented by scheduled access, which allows or restricts access by time, date, and/or person. This system could also be installed on the safe or vault locking mechanism, for which their intrusion method is unclear.
This security system permits owners to schedule access, only allowing access when necessary and restricting access to sensitive areas. Scheduling for access can be intertwined with shifts. For example, if an employee only works Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm, then the system would only allow access for this employee during this timeframe. If the same employee were to return at night or on the weekend, the card reader would deny entry and log the failed attempt.
If scheduled access had been in place, the burglars may not have been able to enter the dispensary, even with a legitimate or successfully copied access key card. Although the burglars may have identified a second method to enter, this system would have delayed entry and could have even notified the dispensary’s management that an unauthorized attempt to open the side door was made. It is also crucial that missing or lost key cards be reported to management and deauthorized.
Scheduled access control is just one of many important components of a successful security plan. When it comes to protecting valuables, retail businesses should use every tool available because owners never know when crimes may occur.
Authors: Tony Gallo and Katharine Baxter
Tony Gallo is the Managing Partner for Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, LLC with over 30 years in the Security, Audit, Safety, and Risk/Emergency Management fields. Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University and is a licensed Security Consultant. Tony is a published author on cannabis security and has spoken at numerous cannabis business conferences across the United States. He is considered one of the leading authorities in cannabis and financial loan service security, focusing on armed robbery, burglary, and loss prevention.