Edgeworth Crime Alert: Criminals Targeting Californian Commercial Cannabis Businesses

Warning to all commercial cannabis companies in California: there has been a recent spree of attempted burglaries in your area! Make sure your business is not the next victim by partnering with Edgeworth, a security provider with decades of experience protecting legal cannabis-related businesses. If you’re looking to get into the commercial cannabis state, start off on the right foot by partnering with Edgeworth to craft a proactive and comprehensive security plan and implementation.

This recent Californian crime spree has affected many cannabis businesses, including two under the protection of Edgeworth Security. To spread awareness and ultimately improve the safety of our communities, Edgeworth has started the “Edgeworth Crime Alerts” article series. Through thorough investigation of the data available from advanced smart cameras and high-grade analytics, our experts are able to see where patterns might appear and warn those who might be affected.

Here is Edgeworth’s opinion on these commercial cannabis-related attempted burglaries and what can be done to prevent them.

The Best Case Scenario

Over the last few months, several commercial cannabis businesses have been targeted by an unknown crew of burglars. These individuals appear to be highly organized, criminally experienced, and extremely motivated. Edgeworth has video evidence of two of these attempted burglaries. All evidence has been provided to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, but while they are conducting their investigations, the following is what the public needs to know.

The first incident analyzed by the Edgeworth team was an attempted burglary at a Californian dispensary.* A large group of individuals in multiple cars approached the back entrance of the site, outfitted with crowbars, saws, and other tools, all of which can be considered deadly weapons. The criminals were wearing hoodies and masks to obscure their identities. Part of the group served as look-out while others concentrated on getting in, attempting to break open the reinforced door with multiple tools.  

This particular site was already hardened against break-ins and other security threats through layers of protection. The groundwork was laid far in advance with the expert security consultation of Chris Eggers and his company, the Cannabis Compliant Security Solutions (CCSS). Under the advisement and supervision of CCSS and Edgeworth, integration of the following security elements were implemented on the site: hardened doors outfitted with the ability to withstand aggressive force (including power tools), speakers, smart cameras, and digital line barriers.

The intruders met resistance the second they stepped onto the site. Edgeworth’s remote monitoring system, Remote Guarding, covers every inch of a property with a protective layer of technology. As soon as the first intruder broke the digital perimeter, an alert was sent to the Edgeworth Monitoring Center. One of our highly trained monitoring agents investigated the alert, assessed the situation, and delivered an assertive Voice Down, commanding the intruders to leave the premises or face law enforcement. 93% of the time, when an Edgeworth agent delivers a direct and individualized Voice Down command, it is enough to send the potential criminal flying away from the site.

These criminals, however, were more determined than most, adding legitimacy to the theory that they were an experienced and organized group. They ignored Edgeworth’s repeated, direct communication and continued their attempted break-in. They also attempted to use several tools against the reinforced doors, but were unable to breach the reinforced doors. Edgeworth then escalated the response and contacted the appropriate law enforcement authorities and the owners of the site.

Thanks to Edgeworth’s previously established relationships with the local law enforcement, the police arrived within minutes of the intruders trespassing on the property. The presence of deadly weapons at the scene, verified by Edgeworth’s live monitoring agent, heightened the level of urgency of the police response. The police sirens were enough to spook the group of criminals, and they fled, unsuccessful in their attempts to burglarize the location. The layers of protection set in place by Edgeworth and CCSS slowed down the intruder’s efforts by the extra few minutes the police needed to arrive.

Despite Challenges, Ultimately Still a Success

The second location was a cannabis processing facility.* Unfortunately, due to the lack of many layers of protection, this site was easier for the criminals to access.

This group arrived at night in a similar manner and in similar garb to the previous incident. They also brought all the same tools as well, and immediately set out to dispatch the doors of the facility. This time, however, the business was lacking the recommendations from a consultant like CCSS, and thus did not have the equipment necessary to prevent these kinds of serious, organized burglaries. The criminals used their crowbars to easily pop open the non-reinforced doors and enter the building. They wasted no time searching and headed directly to the rooms where the most product was kept. This makes it appear as if they could be working with inside knowledge, possibly with the assistance of an employee of the business.

As soon as they crossed the site’s digital barrier line at the edge of the property, Edgeworth began issuing Voice Down commands that were ultimately ignored. As our monitoring center agents were demanding the criminals leave the site and calling the local law enforcement, the burglars quickly moved product into their get-away vehicles.

Just as before, the individuals fled after hearing police sirens. The lack of a fortified door meant precious time wasn’t available for police response to get there before it was breached. Layers of security and impediments work together to slow the progress of intruders. Unfortunately, in this case the criminals got away with hundreds of dollars of product in only a few minutes.

Even despite the stolen product, this incident can still be counted as a success. If Edgeworth had not been able to discover the criminals in the act and inform law enforcement when we did, it is possible that the criminals could have stolen thousands more in product, and even some of the facility’s expensive equipment. The police were presented with the video evidence Edgeworth was able to collect and are still investigating. Edgeworth will continue to assist the investigation in whatever way we can.

The Difference A Few Minutes Can Make

With this level of criminal activity, often the only deterrent is law enforcement. In both locations the criminals refused to leave until they heard the police sirens. Every minute counts to give the police time to respond before the criminals get away, which is why having layers of protection and not depending on any one security measure is so vital.

In this day and age, law enforcement have thin resources and must respond to calls in order of priority. When an alert is sent through a traditional alarm system, which doesn’t allow for video verification, the priority is low, since the police have no way of knowing if it’s a false alarm or not. This often results in an officer arriving at the scene hours after the suspect has already fled, which increases the possibility they will not be caught. Most of these alerts end up as an after-the-fact report only.

Our partnerships with law enforcement ensure a quick response from local agencies. When an Edgeworth monitoring center agent calls law enforcement, they can provide the police with detailed information about the location of the suspect in real-time, their description, and video proof of their activities before and after the call was made. Law enforcement agencies know that when they are called to an Edgeworth-secured property, the incident is not a false alarm and has the video verification they require to act upon a call immediately. These calls are thus bumped up in the priority order. Hardened access control features give cannabis businesses the capability to withstand siege long enough for police to arrive on scene and prevent crime.

Moreover, if a suspect is seen with any kind of weapon on them, especially a firearm, the Edgeworth agent is able to confirm that fact with police. The suspect is now officially “armed and dangerous,” and the call has reached the highest priority. This will get the fastest police response time, as well as a squadron of police cars straight to the location with their lights and sirens turned on. Once they hear and see the police, most criminals decide that the payday is no longer worth it and flee the scene immediately.

The ability to reduce response time and increase the time it takes criminals to enter the premises is critical in preventing and mitigating security emergencies. The quicker the police respond to serious cases, like the ones in California, and the more time it takes for the criminals to break in, the less likely the criminals are able to complete their burglaries in full or at all. 

Criminals Still Targeting Cannabis Businesses

Similarities from other heists reported around California only increase the possibility that these crimes were committed by the same group of criminals, all targeting legal cannabis businesses. Their level of organization and planning have led us to suspect that this might even be an inside job. After analyzing the two videos, the Edgeworth team has discovered that an individual wearing the same hoodie was present at both crimes. More evidence that this was the same group of criminals.

Commercial cannabis companies in certain areas of California, such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, are being targeted more and more often by these organized criminals. With every successful burglary, they are becoming more bold, confident, and violent. Moreover, businesses that don’t have adequate security are more likely to be targeted, as evidenced in the case of one of Edgeworth’s other clients, Alco Parking. Alco Parking reports that “once [unwanted intruders] get the message that the garage is under surveillance, they tend to move on to other locations versus continuing to come back to our garage.”

This is also true for the commercial cannabis industry. Once criminals are chased off of an Edgeworth-protected property, they are very unlikely to return, turning their eyes to other, less protected businesses.

The more businesses employ Remote Guarding, the safer they all will be collectively. 

Similar to what was presented in this article, when Edgeworth has access to multiple clients within the area a crime spree is occurring, our security experts are able to put multiple sets of data to use, increasing the likelihood that the criminals will be caught and improving the safety of all locations.

Contact Edgeworth Security Today

If your commercial cannabis business doesn’t have the superior protection of a security company of Edgeworth’s caliber, you are risking becoming the next target. Make sure your business, product, and most importantly, your customers and staff members, are protected with Edgeworth’s state of the art security solution: Remote Guarding.

If you’re ready to benefit from the unparalleled peace of mind Edgeworth can bring, contact one of our cannabis security experts at 412-334-1961.



*details changed to protect the anonymity of our clients