Medical marijuana dispensary security cameras key to busting Pagosa Springs burglary ring

The comments that popped up on our recent post about Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division inspections of dispensaries made it clear that many members of the MMJ community feel security-camera requirements are intrusive and overly expensive. But Bill Delany, owner of Good Earth Meds in Pagosa Springs, isn't complaining. His system helped foil a burglary ring that had been hitting businesses all over the area -- including his.

The robbery took place on June 26, when "we were cramming to meet all the new regulations" going into effect on July 1, Delany says. As a result, "I left some stuff in a room that had a camera as opposed to one that didn't."

The Good Earth Meds lobby.
The Good Earth Meds lobby.

The thieves "got a few things," he continues. "They got pipes and vaporizers and quite a bit of cash." They gained entry by "cutting the bars off my window and throwing a rock through it, which taught me a lesson. Now I've got safety glass, so if they get the bars off, they can't get through the glass."

The bars definitely helped law enforcement, though. "We've got video of them tugging on the bars forever," he notes.

The footage gave police their best look at the perpetrators, even down to the new sneakers worn by one of them, which left a footprint at the scene. "When the cops caught him, his sneakers matched the footprint," Delany reveals.

Police don't think the four men they eventually arrested -- the Durango Herald IDs them as Allan Vanness, Fermin Villareal Jr., Dominique Swanson and Angelo Rivard -- were only targeting MMJ operations. Far from it: The quartet is suspected of hitting nineteen businesses of all types over a four-month span.

The Good Earth Meds accessories and edibles display.
The Good Earth Meds accessories and edibles display.

In the midst of the investigation, Delany had to admit to a technical problem in terms of dispensary regulations. The stuff he'd left out included edibles, which were supposed to have been locked away under the dictates of a local ordinance. This infraction could have led to a closure of Good Earth Meds, but Archuleta County Attorney Todd Starr went to bat for Delany with the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division in light of his cooperation in the burglary investigation. In the end, Delany paid a $250 fine for his oversight but was able to stay open.

He's grateful about how things worked out. "Our local authorities worked with the state to come to the right conclusion," he believes. "I knew I screwed up, but it wasn't something I did for gain."

As for those cameras, he's happy to have them, despite the expense. "Now that I've spent the money and done all the work, I love the regulations," he says. "It was a pain in the butt to get there, but now that I've done it, I see the practicality of it. It's just community protection kind of stuff."

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And in Delany's case, his cameras truly did protect the community.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana robbery attempt misreported: 'They're trying to make the stigma even worse,' manager says."


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