September 13, 2010
The large hole in the wall of Scott Brassfield’s office left the doctor scrambling Monday for answers.
Crime, he said, has increased since a medical marijuana dispensary moved in next to his Colorado Springs practice. That hole, he said, is all the proof he needs.
Recent crime data, however, suggests that Brassfield’s situation is nothing more than an hard-to-accept anomaly.
Colorado Springs police have yet to find a correlation between the city’s budding medical marijuana industry and increased crime, said Sgt. Darrin Abbink, police spokesman. There’s no evidence the industry — which boasts about 175 businesses in Colorado Springs — disproportionally attracts robberies and break-ins.
In the 18-month period ending Aug. 31, Colorado Springs police chronicled 41 criminal incidents at medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations, Abbink said.
Of those, 33 were burglaries and six were robberies — incidents which involve the threat of violence. Twice, establishments were vandalized.
By comparison, there were 797 robberies in businesses and houses in the 18-month period ending June 30, the most recent data set available for overall robbery rates. In that same time frame, there were 4,825 burglaries of businesses and houses in the city.
Abbink said the numbers don’t point to a higher crime rate among dispensaries. He added, though, that more time is needed to collect information on the relatively young industry.
“It’s all going to depend on what the person is looking to steal,” Abbink said. “I don’t think the data really supports (dispensaries) are more likely to be targeted at this point. There’s not really enough information yet.”
Brassfield’s medical office suffered collateral damage from the latest burglary targeting a dispensary.
Early Sunday morning, three people climbed a ladder and broke into the second-story window of Brassfield’s practice, Academy Medical Arts, 3220 N. Academy Blvd, to gain access to the neighboring business: Canna Caregivers.
Once inside the burglars tore through the wall of the medical office in an attempt to reach the dispensary. Meanwhile, they took some Viagra and vials of medicine for treating vomiting from the Brassfield’s office, he said. It was unknown what, if anything, was stolen from Canna Caregivers.
One suspected burglar, James Powers, 23, was caught by police. The two other people got away.
It was not the first time the dispensary was targeted.
Burglar alarms sounded Aug. 19 and Sept. 3 at Canna Caregivers, Abbink said, and again on Sept. 7, when burglars damaged the dispensary’s front door.
“My employees don’t feel safe; we’re probably going to have insurance rates going up,” said Brassfield, who noted that he is not against medical marijuana (he’s recommended it himself) but wants the industry to be better regulated.
His practice was closed Monday due to blood stains left by the burglars.
A woman answering phones at Canna Caregivers declined to comment on the issue until police have finished their investigation.
The burglary comes as the Colorado Springs Planning Commission prepares to vote this week on new zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.
The proposed regulations would keep dispensaries in industrial and commercial zones, as well as 400 feet from such areas as schools and drug treatment facilities.
If approved during the commission’s meeting Thursday, the issue would be sent to the City Council for a final vote.
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