Clueless Thieves Attempt to Rob Green Leaf Central Store

Cindy Kleh 21 Apr 2020

One industry that has not been shut down by the Covid-19 virus is crime. Although crime rates across the globe have declined precipitously, there are still folks out there who are looking to make a quick buck through fraud schemes and robberies, even in Burlington, Vermont. 

On the morning of April 11, Joey Verga, owner of Green Leaf Central near Church Street, noticed something was amiss when he opened up. “Not too much was disturbed and there was no forced entry, but cash was missing.” 

Verga had security cameras set up, but had not yet paid for the upgraded subscription to activate them. He had some suspects in mind, but decided not to call the cops. Instead, he activated the cameras and changed the lock on the door without telling anyone. 

“These were really bad thieves”

On Easter morning, he went to work to find that the shop had been ransacked, but still with no signs of a forced entry. He put on gloves and a mask and surveyed the damage and losses; then he called the police. When they arrived, they demonstrated that both the outside and inside doors could be forced open without a key.

The police explained that the doors were defective, and an incorrect lock for that type of door had been used during its initial installation. That solved the mystery of how the thieves had entered without a key. 

While conducting an inventory of what was missing, they watched the videos from the night before. At 10:00 p.m. the video showed five perpetrators, four with masks, carrying shopping tote bags into the store. In the background, jubilation was heard when they discovered jars of cannabis flower while throwing products in their bags.

Unbeknownst to them, it was organic hemp flower grown at David Zuckerman’s Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg, but it smelled and looked like dank kine bud, so they grabbed it all, leaving boxes of product worth thousands of dollars untouched. Verga surmised that it didn’t matter to the thieves whether it was hemp or THC flower; it looked and smelled like the real thing, and it would be easy to sell on the black market.  

The video also showed four of them returning at midnight for another load (Verga believes the other one was outside being the lookout). The unmasked man looked directly into the camera this time, and when he turned away, his reflection showed him grabbing products off the shelves before entering the back room to find more plunder. 

“These were really bad thieves,” Verga chucked. “Although I’m still taking orders and doing curbside delivery out of my South Burlington store, I had brought a lot of that inventory here to the main store during the Covid shutdown. They took a few pounds of hemp flower and missed the expensive stuff. They took some gummy bears, some cash, the business’ iPad, and two boxes of used salves that were samples.”

At first Verga saw the break-in as another big bummer on top of the financial devastation that the virus shutdown had caused, but the story ended up in the local news, and for the next few days, he was busy filling online orders because of the publicity. 

But the crime was solved when Verga asked Siri on his iPhone where his iPad was located. That information led the police directly to the suspects, and most of the stolen property (except the petty cash) was recovered. None has been returned to Verga, as it is still criminal evidence. 

So, just a warning to cannabis businesses: make sure your security systems are working during the pandemic shutdown. Warning for thieves looking to make a quick buck? Avoid Green Leaf Central!

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