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Police Link Rash of New England Cannabis Facility Burglaries

According to the report by The, police have found that a string of New England marijuana dispensaries were burglarized. They also linked it to three Massachusetts suspects. Portland Press Herald. According to law enforcement officials, a New Bedford man and two Boston brothers are suspects in a string of burglaries that took place at licensed cannabis businesses dating back to 2020.

In October last year, a burglary occurred at Gorham, Maine’s marijuana grower. Police started to link the crimes. The three burglars were wearing long sleeves and face masks. They climbed through the wall outside of the building, which is located in an industrial area. A fourth man stood guard. They moved slowly from one room to the next, trying to dodge detection by motion sensors. They took with them 30 pounds of marijuana and 500 vape cartridges of THC when they left the premises a few hours later.

During their investigation, police reviewed video from the cannabis cultivator’s security cameras. One camera recorded the Massachusetts license plate from a pickup truck, which had entered the lot about two hours earlier than the crime. And inside the building, one of the camera’s microphones recorded the burglars talking to one another.

“Where the (expletive) is Dario?” one burglar clearly said to another.

“He’s putting the trunks in the truck, ” the accomplice replied.

Investigative Team Identifies Three Suspects

Dario Almeida was a 21-year old male with a New Bedford address. Gorham detective Stephen Hinkley called New Bedford police and gave them a number to call for Almeida who had made a contact recently with the department.

Hinkley received an email from police in New Bedford one week later to tell him that Almeida was and Rafael was suspects in similar burglary in Warwick, Rhode Island of cannabis cultivator, Warwick. Hinkley’s video also showed the pickup truck being used. According to Mass Live, police believe the brothers hail from South Boston while a third suspect comes from New Bedford.

Hinkley contacted other New England law enforcement agencies to learn of seven similar thefts that occurred in Maine between June and December last year. A second Gorham marijuana business was also broken into by burglars. They broke through an exterior wall in Gorham on Thanksgiving night 2020. A South Portland cannabis company was also burglarized by thieves. In January, a Portland, Maine judge issued a search warrant for evidence including location data from one of the suspect’s cell phones for the times that two of the burglaries occurred. The case remains under investigation and no arrests have been made.

Police in South Portland and Warwick did not reply to reporters’ questions about the burglaries. Christopher Sanborn from Gorham Police also refused to respond on the spate of burglaries.

“This is an open investigation that we are currently working on,” Sanborn said. “I’m sorry, but I cannot comment any further at this time.”

Maine’s cannabis regulatory agency, the Office of Marijuana Policy, requires licensed cannabis businesses to report burglaries, robberies and other crimes. David Heidrich spoke for the agency and said that not all businesses know how to report such crimes. They are confidential so the agency cannot analyze the data.

“We are not a law enforcement entity, and our role in regulating cannabis is to ensure licensee and registrant compliance with Maine’s adult and medical use of marijuana laws,” Heidrich wrote in response to a request for information on crime reports at cannabis businesses. “Thefts and burglaries are crimes, and the best source for information about criminal activity is and has always been law enforcement.”

A Tetrapoint LLC executive, which is a South Portland cannabis security company that transports marijuana and cash to cannabis businesses, spoke with the Portland Press Herald that many companies are lulled by Maine’s reputation as a low-crime state into being complacent about security. He said, however that cannabis companies still pose a threat.

“The tendency is to say, the bank’s only a half-hour away, why would we pay people to drive there?” said the executive, who requested anonymity to prevent being targeted for robbery while he’s on the job. “We have clients who are next door to a bank, and they still utilize our services.”

The executive also noted that despite pot’s continued illegality at the federal level, many local police departments are treating cannabis businesses just like other crime victims.

“In several different communities, we’ve found that local law enforcement are very friendly because it’s driving new business,” the security executive said.  “Some folks may not be particularly happy about the industry, but it’s here, it’s now and it’s happening.”