New Weed Street pot shop looted in 2nd burglary in 2 weeks; Highland Park dispensary also hit
Cannabis stores that largely only accept cash have been attracting burglars since the drug was legalized for recreational use at the start of the year.
Weed Street seemed like a perfect place for a pot shop.
But since Windy City Cannabis opened in Goose Island in late June, burglars have targeted the store twice — including during the looting wave early Monday that tore through downtown and the Near North Side.
Weed stores that largely only accept cash have become attractive targets since the drug was legalized for recreational use at the start of the year. Roughly a day after Windy City was hit, another dispensary in Highland Park was also burglarized.
Officers responded about 1 a.m. Monday to Windy City, 923 W. Weed, and learned the suspects had broken into the shop through a glass patio door, according to Chicago police. The burglars made off in a vehicle with store merchandise and several computers.
Windy City CEO Steve Weisman said no cash or cannabis was taken, though the store sustained some damage. Weisman, who also runs four suburban dispensaries, said he isn’t deterred by the break-in at his latest location, which comes just over two weeks after police arrested two people attempting to get into the shop.
“While our store has been a recent target, we continue to believe in the city of Chicago,” he said in a statement. “We support the efforts for social justice and racial equity taking place in Chicago and across the country, and advocate for peaceful activism.”
As businesses in the area were ransacked late Sunday and early Monday, burglars tried six times to gain entry to the NuEra dispensary at 1308 W. North, according to spokesman Jonah Rapino. The efforts all proved unsuccessful.
But early Tuesday, the Elevele dispensary at 1460 Old Skokie Road in Highland Park was also struck, according to owner Andy Hunt.
“The vault was secured and no product was taken. More important, nobody was in the building at the time of the crime so nobody was hurt,” said Hunt, who declined to provide additional details.
Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that staunchly opposed the legalization push in Illinois, said the string of dispensary burglaries doesn’t surprise him.
“We’ve seen this across many legal states,” said Sabet. “The interesting part is that burglars mostly want the product, not the cash. It’s not so dissimilar from jewelry store burglaries. Marijuana is a valuable commodity on the underground market, especially so in legal states.”
Though Illinois dispensaries are required to keep pot products stored in a vault, at least one of the four stores targeted during another spate of looting earlier this summer had inventory stolen.
And while many of the affected dispensaries were targeted during that unrest, a Logan Square pot store also fell victim to a daring heist just days after weed was fully legalized statewide.
Early Jan. 6, the suspect used a key card to gain entry into MOCA at 2847 W. Fullerton, according to police. After creeping inside, the burglar got into a secure vault and used a torch to break into a safe and snatch the estimated $200,000 in cash. At some point before slipping out, the thief even deactivated the store’s camera system.
No arrests have been reported.