Marijuana delivery business proving to be target for thieves in East Bay

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CONCORD (KRON) — The combination of cash and a cash crop seems to be a very tempting target for some thieves, especially when they can have their victims delivered to them.

“Historically if somebody wants to commit a robbery they’ll go find a victim, [at a] liquor store, convenience store, but now people are using smartphones to order a victim to a location of their choosing and they know that the victim is going to bring marijuana and cash with them,” said Lt. Mike Kindorf with the Concord Police Department.

Concord PD says they’ve seen as many of four armed stick ups of cannabis delivery drivers a month and they aren’t the only law enforcement agency to notice this trend.

“There’s a significant increase and talking with other law-enforcement agencies,” Kindorf said. “I know that Concord is not alone in that crime trend that it’s occurring in other parts of Contra Costa County as well.”

Because cannabis is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, California pot sellers are stuck dealing in cash for the most part, which is luring in the criminal element, even more than the drugs.

“In a few robberies that we have they’ve targeted cash and not even touched the marijuana,” said Kindorf.

In December, a driver showed up for a drop off in the parking lot of the Bank of America near the Sun Valley Mall and was robbed by a handgun wielding suspect.

The thief grabbed both the pot and the cash but police later found a duffle bag stuffed with pot products abandoned by the side of I-680.

Concord Police believe that it’s a crime that’s underreported and even in the cases where police are called in, the victims often don’t want to cooperate.

“Even though it’s legal it seems to be a little bit of an off the grid business,” Kindorf said. “It’s kind a virgin territory that we’re in for sure.”

For instance in that armed robbery that happened near the Sun Valley Mall, police have a suspect but they’re having a hard time getting the victim to call them back so we can make a positive ID.

One recent holdup happened near Newhall Park just before 8 p.m.

“We’re mostly concerned it is the Public Safety issue, these robberies are happening in residential neighborhoods. There occurring in strip malls, business parking lots,” said the Concord police lieutenant. “We’re concerned for the safety of the drivers who are the victims of these crimes and oftentimes are confronted with armed suspects.”

The owner of Ohana Gardens Cannabis Delivery Service showed KRON4 some of the 360 degree cameras mounted in his company vehicles.

The video is piped back to security service which is constantly monitoring the activity.

Not only that, their drivers also wear a body camera during their transactions.

It’s something they tell their customers when they place an order.

“So if somebody has a bad intention, they learn quickly that everything about our transaction is recorded, stream into a backend system made available to local police — the whole 9 yards,” the owner said.

In addition to that, the cars have safes for the money drops which the driver’s can’t open and which are tracked with GPS.

“So if anybody tries it funny and walk away with it rest a sure we can track them within a few seconds any particular scenario,” he said.

He believes it’s because of his security precautions that none of his drivers have ever been robbed in the two and a half years since his company, which is licensed to deliver in many cities throughout California, was launched.

Meanwhile Concord Police says they are willing to work with these mobile marijuana companies to help keep them safe.

They say since law has changed, law enforcement understands their response has to change with it.

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