Two Missoula medical marijuana dispensaries fell victim to "smash and grab" burglaries on Thanksgiving Day.
Alarms that activated when someone smashed the front door and window to Green Tree on North Higgins drew police to the downtown dispensary around 10 p.m. Thursday. Manager Jake Fagrelius said a friend walking downtown saw police rushing to the building and let him know something was up. By 10:30 p.m., Fagrelius was at the store cleaning up shattered glass, presumably broken with an ax left behind.
The burglar made off with about $500 in cannabidiol products and caused more than $1,000 in damage in coming through the window and door, Fagrelius said.
"Obviously they were after product and money," he said.
As a newer business, Green Tree did not have any surveillance cameras set up around the store, so the owners didn't have much to offer Missoula police in the investigation. Fagrelius said he's thankful no one was in the store when the burglary took place.
"In reality, it could have been way worse," he said. "We got lucky."
That morning, someone went through the front window at Europhia Wellness, a dispensary on the south side of Higgins bridge, but found little more than a handful of water pipes in the dispensary's main lobby. Whomever entered the dispensary kicked down two interior doors, which likewise proved unfruitful, said Euphoria manager Kasey Iverson.
Approximately $800 of water pipes were stolen, and replacing the windows was estimated at several thousand dollars on Tuesday.
Both Green Tree and Euphoria are still open pending the repairs.
Missoula police did not return calls for comment Tuesday on whether the burglaries are related, or if a suspect has been identified in the case.
Iverson said as a member of the Montana medical marijuana industry, he's heard about break-ins at dispensaries all over the state.
"It's the nature of the business, it's like a pharmacy," he said. "Security is probably one of the bigger overhead costs for a dispensary."
Two years ago, three juveniles were charged with 12 felonies for stealing a car from a Missoula dealership en route to burglarize a dispensary. That same year, burglars dressed in camouflage and equipped with two saw blades and a collapsible ladder cut a hole in a Butte dispensary roof and stole $12,000 in medical marijuana.
Iverson said Euphoria is looking to expand security measures at the shop following last week's break-in.
"Especially when you're starting up, it's something that's better to have set up before you open the doors," he said.