Burglars hit a Denver cultivation that supplies two popular marijuana brands late last week, according to the operation's owners, who are offering a reward for information that helps catch the culprits.
Veritas Fine Cannabis co-owner Mike Leibowitz has experienced his fair share of break-ins during a decade in the legal marijuana industry, where commercial growing operations are a popular target during the off-hours. But the incident on July 10 stings the worst, he says.
"A lot of these people probably get jobs within the industry and case joints, no pun intended. But they do that — and I think our particular job was from an inside influence," Leibowitz explains. "I don't know if it was 'inside' in terms of being a current employee, but one of the individuals seen on the video knows the place well, where to go and what to do."
Inside jobs by employees and temporary staffers is an ugly truth in the marijuana industry, Leibowitz adds, though he's seen a bloopers reel of theft attempts by obvious outsiders, too.
"You have the temporary staffing companies, electricians and plumbers, couriers literally collecting cash; you can't prejudice yourself against anyone who's going there to do a job," he says. "But it was very coordinated, so it tells us someone knew the spot well. That just stings. Money comes and money goes, but the idea that the person who did this is potentially still working for us really hurts."
The burglarized cultivation grows strains for Cookies, a popular marijuana brand from the Bay Area that has a licensing deal with Veritas in Colorado. Sold for as much as $70 for 3.5 grams, Cookies products have been highly sought after since debuting in Colorado just over two months ago, and were also taken from the grow, according to Veritas.
The Denver Police Department is investigating the theft, and Veritas also plans to hire a private investigator. But the company isn't depending on either of those probes to nab the thief. On its Instagram page, Veritas is offering $25,000 to anyone who provides "information that leads to the arrest and conviction" of the two individuals seen on security footage; tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filing an insurance claim over a stolen-weed incident would've been unthinkable for Leibowitz as little as five years ago, but he's filing one now. There's property damage to cover, and both marijuana and cash were stolen from the Veritas grow warehouse, he says, though he declines to say how much.
There was a string of armed robberies at Denver-area dispensaries from late 2019 through January, and while the people responsible for those now seem to be lying low, in June the DPD sent a notice to local businesses, warning about a rise in crime at dispensaries and marijuana grows. The department suggested adding security measures; it also offered extra patrols in the neighborhood if the businesses desired them.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.