CHICAGO -- Torch-wielding burglar stole $200K from pot shop’s safe, used key card to get inside: police report

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Johnny J
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CHICAGO -- Torch-wielding burglar stole $200K from pot shop’s safe, used key card to get inside: police report

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After creeping inside MOCA, 2847 W. Fullerton, the suspect got into the vault and used a torch to break into a safe and steal $200,000 in cash. -- Tom SchubaJan 21, 2020

A heist at a Logan Square pot shop two weeks ago played out like a scene from a Hollywood caper — and the thief’s $200,000 score fits the bill.

Just after 3 a.m. Jan. 6, the suspect used a key card to gain entry into MOCA at 2847 W. Fullerton, according to an incident report obtained from Chicago police.

After creeping inside, the burglar got into a secure vault and used a torch to break into a safe and snatch the estimated $200,000 in cash, the report states. At some point before slipping out, the thief deactivated the store’s camera system, the report says.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the suspect was still at large, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, who previously framed the burglary as an apparent inside job and reported that over $100,000 was taken.

Danny Marks, MOCA’s owner, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier this month, he touted the store’s security system and said the shop has “licensed security staff on site during all open hours.”

“We take security extremely seriously and have never experienced an incident like this since we first opened in 2016,” Marks said of the burglary, which took place just five days after recreational marijuana was legalized statewide.

The burglary was reported after an employee showed up to the store hours later and found his key card wasn’t working, according to the police report. After entering through Emporium, an adjacent bar/arcade that’s also owned by Marks, the employee realized the dispensary had been hit.

Cannabis businesses that have large amounts of pot and cash have become attractive targets for thieves in other states that have legalized the drug.

In September, four men were arrested in connection with a series of burglaries in California, including a break-in at a pot shop in San Leandro. Earlier that month, four other thieves struck another dispensary in Sonora, California, making off with nearly $70,000.

Following the burglary at MOCA, Gov. J.B. Pritzker told Sun-Times columnist Rich Miller that his administration is considering setting up a cash deposit program for weed businesses. Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for Pritzker, said the governor’s office is now discussing the possible program with federal officials and “other stakeholders.”

Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, pot companies are left with limited options for depositing cash and processing transactions. Many Illinois dispensaries, including MOCA, only accept cash that is later deposited at the few banks that do business with cannabis firms.

Though legislation aimed at addressing the banking issue passed the Illinois General Assembly last year, a similar measure has stalled in the U.S. Senate after passing the House.

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