LOCAL NEWS

‘High’ frequency in armed robberies at pot shops in Puget Sound region

Jan 31, 2022, 4:33 PM
pot shop...
Uncle Ikes White Center cannabis shop. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Pot shops up and down the I-5 corridor, from Bellingham to Vancouver, are increasingly becoming the target of armed robberies.

And some of those robberies have even left employees with gunshot wounds.

Tom Bout, owner of the Cannabis Professionals Network and general manager at Emerald Haze in Renton, has been tracking recent robberies in a spreadsheet with others in the industry.

“Since November, there have been 33 armed robberies — 33,” he said.

Seattle pot shop owner responds to new federal weed policy

That includes Bout’s own workplace, as well as dozens of other stores in Western Washington.

“[Emerald Haze was] robbed, the night we were robbed, Seattle Cannabis Company was robbed,” Bout counted off. “The neighbor down the street, Buddy’s, was robbed just a few days before we were.”

Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shops, said that cannabis stores have always been a target of criminals, but the armed robberies are “happening almost daily” now.

One reason why pot shops are hit so often is that the businesses are cash-only. Because marijuana is federally illegal, federal law prohibits the stores from taking credit or debit card payments.

“While we don’t have a lot of cash — because everyone has decent cash-management systems — there’s a little bit of cash on-hand, which is probably more than the average coffee shop or gas station,” Eisenberg said.

As a result, pot stores are having to spend money hiring armed guards, which Eisenberg says can eat into a big part of a small business’ profit margin.

Bout wants to see a stronger response from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

“The LCB is not communicating these to the stores,” Bout said. “A store that got robbed in Everett has no idea that there was a robbery in Vancouver or Tacoma … [The LCB has] the contact information for every store. They should be communicating these crimes when they happen to let everyone know.”

He said that it is the least the board could do, considering the tax revenue that the stores generate for the state.

“All those taxes being paid for those products — some of that money should be made to make these stores safe,” Bout said.

However, Brian Smith, a spokesperson for the LCB, said that the board does not necessarily even find out about each robbery — those reports go to police instead.

“We are only aware of robberies when they are reported to us,” he said. “These are criminal offenses that are reported to local law enforcement.”

As of last week, the board is sending emails out to pot shops with tips for how store employees can protect themselves.

“As a proactive measure, we reached out to all licensees in an email and told them, ‘Here are a number of things that you can do to ensure the safety of yourself and your employees and customers,'” Smith said.

Those tips include hiring armed guards and putting up signs to let would-be robbers know that there is not much cash on-site and employees cannot access the safe.

Smith said the board has also worked with members of Congress for years to try to allow Washington pot shops to use cards, so they will be less of a target.

In the meantime, some of the pot shops, along with Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, are offering a $3,000 reward for anyone with any information on pot shop robberies that leads to an arrest.

Local News

(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
1 day ago
...
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
1 day ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
1 day ago
FILE - An Amazon company logo on the company's building in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany, March ...
Associated Press

Amazon violated labor law with delivery app

A Spanish court has ruled that Amazon broke labor laws by forcing more than 2,000 delivery drivers to use an app that the company controlled for scheduling work and payments and requiring them to use their own cars and cellphones on the job.
1 day ago
(KIRO 7)...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

Deputies seize nearly 100 pounds of drugs during Tacoma arrest

Deputies with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department seized nearly 100 pounds of drugs while arresting a man with a felony warrant in Tacoma
2 days ago
police pursuit...
Matt Markovich

Source of pursuit deaths updates controversial data

Stats used by legislators to consider changing police pursuit laws may be in question.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
‘High’ frequency in armed robberies at pot shops in Puget Sound region