Police say many marijuana dispensary owners not reporting violent robberies
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 6:23AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 23, 2017 11:58AM EST
Members of the Toronto Police Service’s drug squad say they are concerned that many owners and employees of Toronto marijuana dispensaries are refusing to report a growing number of robberies to the proper authorities.
Speaking at a news conference at Toronto police headquarters Monday, Supt. Bryce Evans said there have been 17 robberies reported at pot shops around the city since June, eight of which were only reported by customers and witnesses in the area.
“I find it disturbing that the owners and operators of these storefronts refuse to cooperate, turn over evidence and instruct their employees not to call the police or speak to the police after they have been victimized,” Evans told reporters Monday.
“There is no doubt that the employees and customers have been traumatized by these violent armed robberies.”
Investigators said handguns were used in 12 of the robberies and shots were fired in two.
Evans added that some of the employees and customers present during the incidents were stabbed, pistol-whipped and pepper-sprayed.
Police also believe there are other robberies that officers have no knowledge of, Evans added.
Acting Insp. Steve Watts, who also spoke at the news conference, said it is clear the dispensaries are now posing a “public safety risk.”
“It has evolved from May until now,” he said.
“The reality is, when there are large amounts of controlled substances and money in one location, that is absolutely a target for certain types of suspects.”
He added that while the amount of drugs and cash stolen ranges from store to store, some of the dispensaries take in up to $30,000 per day.
Police said that robberies at dispensaries would be “fully investigated” by officers if reported to police but added that any illegal substances found during the course of the investigation would be seized.
When asked why dispensaries would report the incidents at the risk being charged or losing product, Evans accused reporters of making dispensary owners out to be “victims.”
“It is illegal,” Evans said.
“To sit there and say, ‘Why would they phone?’ Very simple. Their customers, ranging from a variety of ages… are being beaten, they’re being stabbed, they’re being kicked, they are being forced to the ground and having guns shoved in their faces.”