How to protect your cannabis store from theft

Published Jan 1, 2022 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Olga PS

Every single type of business out there that stores products or cash onsite is at risk of robbery, but if you own a cannabis store, it’s likely that your business will be an even bigger target than most, based purely on the fact that cannabis tends to be packaged small so it’s easy to steal a lot of it, and cash is almost always on the premises in large amount – something that’s especially true in areas where it’s difficult to accept debit or credit cards.

It’s certainly a riskier business than most, still, the biggest problems can be prevented, and financial losses mitigated, as long as you’re willing to take the extra steps to play it safe.

1. Store minimal inventory onsite

At night is when this type of robbery often takes place, as there are few to no people on-site to witness the theft or get in the way. It can also happen during the day, but once the sun goes down, it’s a good idea to remove as many cannabis products as possible to a safer, more protected location. This step adds cost and manpower requirements. However, it’s generally worth it, especially if you make it well known to patrons because word will get out, and your place of business will become less appealing to anyone who might consider breaking in.

2. Lock all cannabis products away

A small vial of cannabis oil may sell for well over $100, and flower is almost as expensive, so theft of a single package can cost a business quite a bit, and that’s why it’s a good idea to keep these products locked away behind a vault or at the very least, in strong storage cabinets. This advice is mostly helpful during the day, but it can also add an extra layer of security at night, forcing thieves to struggle for longer and increasing their chances of getting caught.

3. Keep the cash moving

It’s really hard to be in the cannabis industry these days because, despite the plants growing legal status, it’s nearly impossible to find banking options that would allow customers to pay with credit or debit cards, and that means there’s almost always too much cash on the premises. This is a massive problem that contributes to the overall appeal of cannabis businesses to thieves, but it’s something that can be managed with the right attitude. If a cannabis store owner makes frequent trips to remove cash from the property, it won’t be there to take, so it’s a good thing to do.

4. Door alarms

Door alarms are perhaps one of the most overlooked layers of security that can help to protect all businesses from theft, especially with technology being what it is these days and movement alerts going right to our phones. Of course, a good quality door alarm can run upwards of $200 each, but it’s an investment that will surely pay for itself over time as it works to protect your business from unsavory characters. Some will even call the police for you. It really doesn’t get any more convenient than that!

5. Security guards

You’ve probably noticed armed personnel inside of just about every business that makes a lot of money, and that’s because their entire job is theft prevention. In most cases, simply having an active and watching body on the property is enough to completely deter robbers from trying to steal anything. If not, it’s still someone who can call the police or intervene when necessary, and that could save you thousands each and every year while also creating jobs.

6. Window bars

Window bars aren’t viewed as an overly welcoming-looking addition to any business, but with so many options to choose from these days, it’s relatively easy to find some that are strong and aesthetically appealing, and they do a wonderful job of reinforcing glass windows which are often broken by thieves to gain access. All ground floor and easily accessible windows and, when possible, doors should be protected this way if you want to stop anyone from getting in without a key.

7. Security systems

A high-quality security system will allow you to view your cannabis store from anywhere in the world, and they often include the option of sensors that will alert you every single time a door or window is opened. Many businesses rely on these kinds of alarms so that the authorities can be alerted immediately, and someone will be sent to the scene, generally faster than the average person could.

8. High-quality lighting

Dark areas attract those who prefer not to be seen, and they also interfere with camera quality, two things that work to a robber’s advantage. That’s why it’s a good idea to install high wattage lights outdoors and to keep at least some on indoors, especially when employees are no longer on the property or passing foot traffic is incredibly low. Of course, it won’t physically stop them, but it will help to deter anyone who might be trying to cause damage or steal.

9. Build a community

There is nothing stronger than the power of community, which is why cannabis store owners should work to build one up around their location. Create bonds with neighbors, advocate for and support local agencies, and be an all-around good member of the community. If that happens, everyone in the area will be on the lookout for shady activity, and that will always work to a business’s advantage.

10. The right location

You can invest all the money in the world into the latest and greatest security systems and still suffer major financial losses, and that’s why choosing a good location in an area with high foot traffic and low crime rates are always preferred. Of course, this isn’t always financially or physically possible, but it’s certainly something to consider when you’re scouting out a potential location.

How to minimize cannabis risks

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