OAKLAND (BCN)

According to a security consultant and chief financial officer of a local cannabis company, licensed cannabis businesses in Oakland are being robbed and broken into, putting employee safety at risk and prompting those businesses to consider leaving town.

An East Oakland cannabis business owned by DNA Genetics has been burglarized three to four times in the past 18 to 24 months, owners said. In just one night, the thieves came back six times.

The night they came six times, they were carrying guns and also put a child and others in danger. According to Sean Paige, director of culture at DNA Genetics, which operates subsidiaries in California and Amsterdam, up to 20 people came to them with guns with extended clips.

That night they also put a child, among other things, in danger, DNA said.


John Walpuk, CFO of DNA Genetics, thinks the city should explore a long-term public-private partnership to protect cannabis companies.

This partnership would not necessarily have to involve more police or guards, which would only be part of the solution, he said.

“Guards won’t solve this problem,” said security consultant Chris Eggers, a former Oakland and San Francisco police officer.

“That’s just one part of the security problem,” he said. “They don’t have the capacity to solve this long-term problem.”

Paige agrees that guards aren’t the answer because most guards aren’t ready to go into a shootout at a cannabis dispensary or legal grow, he said.

Guards who might be ready for a shooting would also cost more than $300,000 a year to hire, he said. Not only that, but any exchange of gunfire would endanger people and families in nearby homes.

The city of Oakland accepted a $9.9 million grant from the California Department of Cannabis Control and Eggers and Walpuk want to see the money used to fight these crimes.

Walpuk said the survey of cannabis business safety on the city’s website is an “absolutely infuriating joke” and an “insult to operators.”

Anyone can fill it out, Eggers added, so the data is unreliable.

Oakland has earmarked $1.7 million of the $9.9 million “to help cannabis businesses meet security requirements,” city spokesman Harry Hamilton said Friday. He did not specify.

The city also received $5.4 million in state grants “and some of it will be used to run a series of safety workshops for cannabis businesses,” Hamilton said.

“City staff continue to research ways to support safety improvements at cannabis businesses,” he said.

It’s unclear if that will be enough for Paige and Walpuk, whose company lost $200,000 worth of biomass in a recent theft. The insurance covers less than 10 cents on every dollar, Walpuk said.

Paige and Walpuk are also frustrated with the police response after a crime has been committed. Patrols aren’t what they should be, Paige said, and police aren’t fingerprinting or reaching out after a robbery.

Officers are just taking a report, he said.

DNA Genetics isn’t the only company with security concerns.

Chen Wang, a managing member of Kwiki Bud, a storeless cannabis retailer, is also concerned about rising crime in Oakland. He said he would like to see a bigger police presence and a quicker response

Police did not respond Friday to a request for data on the number of burglaries and thefts from cannabis businesses over the past two years.

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Copyright © 2022 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, redistribution, or other reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.