COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – The owners of a CBD and a tobacco store say they were hit by two different groups of thieves in December. They say there are surveillance footage that caught them red-handed.
Images of the interior of Aggie and the veteran-owned Elevate CBD + Smoke store appear to show two separate instances over a 16-day period. The first happened on December 16, and co-owner Stephen Gurka III said both people in that group were loyal customers who had been to the store five or six times before.
“The first group, they came in masquerade using the whole COVID protocol to their advantage, as we’ve seen across the country,” Gurka said. “Once hidden, you can no longer identify anyone. “
“The item they bought was actually for the item they ended up stealing, almost as if it was premeditated,” co-owner Alex Aguilar said.
The second case happened on New Years Eve. The images appear to show a group of three glass pipes, cartridges, a scale and other products in their pockets.
“They knew how to block the view,” Aguilar said. “They pretty much knew how to come in and act like they were only there to buy and not to steal.”
The owners say that in each case, the group interacted with store workers before stealing around $ 200 in merchandise. They say it’s the first time they’ve had a theft issue since opening their doors in January 2020.
They say what sets their store apart from other tobacco stores is not having their products locked up in large display cases.
“We’re pretty much trying to change all the stigma in the industry,” Aguilar said. “We try to make it very welcoming and to have an experience that when you walk in you are in awe.”
“Most of the tobacco stores you walk into, you can’t touch anything or see the price of anything. You have to work with a sales rep and you have no choice, ”said Gurka. “We wanted to change that, so everything in our store is sort of in the hands of you as the customer. You don’t have to talk to us if you don’t want to. Some people come and just want to do their shopping on their own.
Gurka and Aguilar say they will be installing more cameras inside and outside the store to prevent this from happening again, among other potential solutions.
“We definitely want to implement during our busiest times, maybe a team of two or three,” Gurka said. “We’ve been thinking about hiring security guards for the gate like we do for our big events, because we’re selling valuables here that people want to get their hands on.”
But one thing they won’t do is lock down their product.
“It takes away the vibe and atmosphere that we created from day one,” said Gurka. “If having a product on the shelf makes you want to steal it, then you are the problem. Not all stores in the College Station area, with the exception of a few tobacco stores, have their products locked.
Gurka says that in 2021 alone, Elevated offered $ 43,000 in free products in the form of discounts and savings to its customers.
“We are giving the veterans a massive discount,” said Gurka, who is a veteran himself. “We know veterans struggle with the pills and we work a lot with veterans charities because we knew this firsthand was a big deal. “
“We try to be as nice as possible and make everyone feel welcome, so it’s a little frustrating in the sense that it’s almost like they’re trying to take advantage of our kindness.” , said Aguilar. “I hope we can catch them and set a standard so that people don’t do it again. “
“The group that came on New Years Eve, I’m sorry, but you will be found,” Gurka said. “The other group with the masks, creative work with the masks, but we’ll find you too. Do not worry.”
If you know who these people are or have any information, you are welcome to contact the police department of the police station.
Copyright 2022 KBTX. All rights reserved.