Portland pot shops struck by stolen cars, robbed; police arrest three teens

Portland police arrested a trio of teenagers early Monday after police said they drove stolen cars into the front of three cannabis dispensaries, stole merchandise and careened through Southeast Portland while being tailed by a police helicopter.

Police did not identify the three teenagers, whom Chief Chuck Lovell called “brazen burglars,” but they are all between 14 and 15 years old. They were booked into the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Facility on suspicion of burglary, criminal mischief, reckless driving and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, police said.

The spree allegedly started around 1:30 a.m. Monday when someone called 911 to report seeing a car drive into the front of a Nectar dispensary on the corner of Southeast Woodstock Boulevard and 92nd Avenue. The caller told police they saw people running from the car into the store, coming out with merchandise and fleeing in a second waiting vehicle. The first car was left at the scene and was later determined to be stolen, police said.

About 40 minutes later, around 2:10 a.m., another person called 911 after noticing that a car had driven through the front of Eden Cannabis on Southeast 60th Avenue and Gladstone Street. By the time officers arrived, the vehicle was gone, police said.

A third person called 911 around 3:10 a.m. after watching a car drive through the doors of the Five Zero Trees dispensary on Southeast Division Street. Again, the caller said people ran into the store and came out with merchandise before fleeing in the car, police said.

Officers who were in the area of Five Zero Trees spotted a silver Kia Soul driving with its lights off. A Portland police helicopter tracked the car’s movements from overhead. The car drove recklessly before stopping near Southeast Main Street and 16th Avenue, police said. Officers approached the car and arrested the three teenagers.

A representative for Five Zero Trees did not respond to an inquiry Monday from The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Beau Havercroft, the assistant manager at Eden Cannabis, said Monday’s smash-and-grab was the second time since Saturday that a driver crashed into the business and robbed it. A car drove through their storefront around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, and the burglars escaped with several glass pipes, Havercroft said

Dispensary employees had temporarily replaced the glass front door and window with wood, only for it to be driven through again Monday morning. This time, the culprits stole more expensive, hand-blown glassware, Havercroft said.

“Cannabis-wise and money-wise, we were not hit,” said Havercroft, 35. “But the inconvenience of not looking open, and of having to clean things up and do inventory is a bit more of a frustration.”

The amount of merchandise stolen from Nectar was also small compared to previous, more organized hits, but the cost of repairing the building could be up to $50,000, said Ben George, Nectar’s regional director of retail operations.

Another car drove through the front of Nectar’s Woodstock location shortly before 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. The dispensary put up a temporary plywood door and a security grate, which were driven through again Monday morning, George said.

“They’re grabbing just random stuff – not a whole lot of it, just quick, in-and-out, very disorganized,” George said. “It does affect morale for the people that need to wake up and clean it and rebuild a plywood door for the second time in a weekend.”

Portland police did not respond to multiple inquiries Monday from The Oregonian/OregonLive. It is unclear whether the burglaries on Saturday and Monday are connected.

George said the owner of the stolen car abandoned at Nectar Monday morning came to the dispensary to fetch the car, but it had already been towed by Portland police.

“Probably the saddest thing this morning was the owner of the vehicle, after it had been towed, just saying ‘I’m sorry our car drove through your business,” said George. “It’s such an infringement on someone’s life, on something they’ve worked so hard for.”

— Catalina Gaitán, cgaitan@oregonian.com, @catalingaitan_

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