Owners of Toronto’s illegal pot shops not reporting violent robberies: Police

Pot shops not reporting violent robberies:Police

TORONTO — Police say marijuana dispensaries operating illegally in Toronto have been the target of violent, armed robberies but their business owners and employees often don’t report them to authorities.

There have been 17 robberies of so-called pot shops since last June and eight of them were not reported to police, Supt. Bryce Evans told a news conference Monday.

During some of those robberies, Evans said employees and customers in the stores were stabbed, pistol-whipped, pepper-sprayed and shot at.

“I find it disturbing that the owners and operators of these storefronts refuse to co-operate, turn over evidence and instruct their employees not to speak to police after they become victimized.”

Evans said those eight robberies were reported to police by customers or neighbours.

In one incident on Dec. 21, Evans said four or five masked men armed with guns stormed a downtown store named Canna Clinic, ordered the employees to the ground and stole cash and drugs before taking off.

A customer who was present during the robbery went to the store the following day and asked if they reported it to police, but the employee allegedly denied it occurred, Evans said.

The customer later complained about it on social media and police launched an investigating, he said.

“The employees were not forthcoming and refused to answer any question,” Evans said, adding that investigators were denied access to the store’s surveillance videos.

Canna Clinic’s owners could not immediately be reached for comment.

The federal government is expected to table legislation in the spring to legalize marijuana, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the current laws will stand until new legislation is ratified.

Last May, Toronto police began to crack down on the dozens of illegal marijuana shops that have popped up throughout the city. During that operation — dubbed Project Claudia — police raided 43 shops and arrested 90 business owners and employees.

Since then, police have conducted a concerted effort at the divisional level, according to Insp. Steve Watts with the drug squad. Police have executed 33 raids — about one a week — since June, he said.

“When there is large amounts of money and substances in one location, that is absolutely a target for certain types of suspects,” Watts said, adding that one of the shops takes in $30,000 in cash daily.

Evans said they have made some arrests related to the robberies, but their investigations are being hampered by the lack of co-operation from owners, who they say aren’t providing information and surveillance video.

“I realize there is no legal obligation to report a crime, but where is your moral sense of obligation?”

Jodie Emery, whose company, Cannabis Culture, has 22 stores across the country, said one of their Toronto locations was robbed recently. She said they called police to report it, and later officers raided the store.

“It’s important to remember that it is the police and government policy of prohibition that creates the inflated value for cannabis, and therefore contributes to the likelihood of robberies and theft,” Emery said in an email.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Former resident wins filmmaking award

Veronika Kurz will be able to make her film with $15,000 cash and in-kind services, up to $100,000

Terrace River Kings win CIHL regular season

The boys held a strong enough lead in points to claim the banner after a 15-2 win Saturday

Terrace residents discuss poverty at provincial engagement meeting

80 people were there as well as the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

Who wants to live here?

Northwest governments partner on marketing plan to attract workforce, residents

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Most Read