ST. LOUIS — Early Monday morning, a string of activity and attempted break-ins were reported at marijuana dispensaries in the region.
Beginning at about 4 a.m., a group of suspects in two dark-colored vehicles attempted to burglarize the Star Buds Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Festus on West Gannon Drive, Festus Police Chief Tim Lewis said.
Lewis said the suspects rammed one of the two vehicles into both the front and back doors of the dispensary to try to gain access to the product inside.
Lewis said Festus police officers saw the two vehicles leaving the dispensary, after unsuccessfully gaining access to the building, and briefly followed the vehicles. The vehicles fled north on Interstate 55, where officers stopped their pursuit.
The Starbuds owner didn’t want to speak on camera but talked with 5 On Your Side in person saying he called Festus Police himself.
“We had officers respond. We actually saw two vehicles leaving the scene but we couldn't pursue them, so we didn't,” Lewis said.
The Starbuds owner said the burglars never made it past the lobby and weren’t able to take anything because just hours before the incident, they finished reenforcing all of their doors and boosting security; a direct response to area break-ins that paid off.
“When you have drugs and money in a location, or they think there are drugs and money, they're gonna keep doing this. What I want to stress is the owners in Festus were shrewd enough and smart enough to meet what the minimum standards set by the state of Missouri and then they stepped up their game,” Chief Lewis said.
At 4:24 a.m., another attempted burglary was reported at the Good Day Farm dispensary on S. Euclid Avenue, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said.
According to police, officers responded to a call for a prior burglary at the dispensary, where they learned seven suspects had entered through the back door, but could not get through to the inside door of the vault containing the products.
Police said the suspects fled in a dark-colored sedan that police believe may be a Hyundai Elantra.
At 4:29 a.m. another break-in was reported to St. Louis police at the SWADE dispensary located on Delmar Boulevard. According to police, four or five suspects had entered the dispensary and left with "boxes of merchandise."
As the suspects were leaving the dispensary, they dropped some of the boxes, which were recovered by officers.
The suspects fled in two vehicles, one believed to be a black SUV and the other a dark-colored sedan, which may be a Hyundai Elantra, St. Louis police said.
Festus Police said the vehicles the group used were reported stolen just hours after the break-ins and believe it could be the same group that hit all three.
“But the M-O, all the actions, are all the same. You know, all the dispensaries, the only difference is the name of the dispensaries and the locations. But the actions are all the same,” Chief Lewis said.
Star Buds' owner said their University City location was not broken into and this is the first time it has happened in Festus.
He said if recreational marijuana is legalized and it becomes more accessible the crime would likely go down, but until then they're at the mercy of their security.
There have been a number of dispensary break-ins in the St. Louis area recently. Thursday, St. Louis police began searching for a group of people who ran a vehicle into the Luxury Leaf dispensary on Vandeventer.