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Pot shop burglars nabbed over $100K in cash in Chicago heist, cops say

The suspects, who may have used a keycard to gain access to the shop, left without taking any pot products.

City inspectors walk out of MOCA Modern Cannabis on Dec. 20 after a compliance inspection ahead of legal weed sales Jan. 1.
Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The burglars who struck a marijuana dispensary in Logan Square earlier this week in a potential inside job made off with more than $100,000 in cash, Chicago police said Friday.

Early Monday, multiple people broke into MOCA at 2847 W. Fullerton, according to police and the dispensary’s owner. The suspects, who may have used a keycard to gain access to the shop, then stole more than $100,000 and left without taking any pot products.

“We suspect that the individuals who committed this burglary had very specific knowledge of the floor itself,” said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “We are definitely working with the store management and ownership to finish off a checklist of things we want done, but there is no question that this was not a random burglary.”

No one has been taken into custody, Guglielmi said.

Danny Marks, MOCA’s owner, declined to comment on the amount of cash that was stolen.

Earlier this week, Marks said the break-in happened about 3 a.m. that morning. While no security or other staff was present during the break-in, Marks noted that the store’s security system “is of the highest standards and we have licensed security staff on site during all open hours.”

“We take security extremely seriously and have never experienced an incident like this since we first opened in 2016,” Marks said of the burglary, which took place just five days after recreational marijuana was legalized statewide. Like other dispensaries in the city, MOCA saw throngs of new customers who spent nearly $11 million statewide in the first five days of sales.

Illinois’ pot law requires dispensaries to have continuous video surveillance and a contract with a private security company. In addition, stores must keep all cannabis and money in a “reinforced vault room” to prevent theft.

Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, pot companies are left with limited options for banking and processing transactions. Like many other Illinois dispensaries, MOCA only accepts cash that is later deposited at the few banks that do business with cannabis firms.

Though legislation aimed at addressing the banking issue passed the Illinois General Assembly last year, a similar measure has stalled in the U.S. Senate after passing the House. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, a staunch advocate for banking reform in the cannabis industry, championed the legislation in Illinois.

“In 2018, there was an estimated $136 million in legal cannabis sales in Illinois alone. That much cash in any industry is ripe for theft, fraud, and tax evasion,” Frerichs previously said in a statement.

“By encouraging financial institutions to provide basic banking services to cannabis-related businesses, these businesses will be able to pay their taxes and fees transparently, comply with regulations, and thrive just like any other legal commercial enterprise.”