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Security footage appears to show customers stealing from Elevated CBD + Smoke in College Station

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 10:59 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Owners of a CBD and smoke shop says they were hit by two different groups of thieves in December. They say there’s surveillance footage that caught them in the act.

The footage from inside Aggie and veteran-owned Elevate CBD + Smoke shop appears to show two separate instances over the period of 16 days. The first occurred on Dec. 16, and co-owner Stephen Gurka III says the two people in that group are return customers who have been in the store five or six times before.

“The first group, they came masked up utilizing the whole COVID protocol to their advantage like we’ve seen around the nation doing,” Gurka said. “Once you’re masked up, you can’t identify anybody.”

“The item they purchased was actually for the item they ended up stealing, almost like it was premeditated,” co-owner Alex Aguilar said.

The second instance happened on New Year’s Eve. The footage appears to show a group of three sneaking glass pipes, cartridges, a scale, and other products into their pockets.

“They knew how to block each other’s view,” Aguilar said. “They knew how to pretty much come in and act as if they were only here to purchase and not to steal.”

The owners say in each instance, the group interacted with store employees before stealing roughly $200 worth of merchandise. They say this is the first time they’ve had an issue with theft since opening their doors in January 2020.

They say what sets their store apart from other smoke shops is not having their products locked inside big glass cases.

“We’re pretty much trying to change the entire stigma of the industry,” Aguilar said. “We’re trying to make it very welcoming and have an experience that when you walk in, you’re wowed.”

“Most smoke shops you go into you can’t touch anything or see the price tag on anything. You’ve got to work with a sales rep, and you don’t have a choice,” Gurka said. “We wanted to change that up, so everything in our store is kind of at the hands of you as a customer. You don’t have to talk to us if you don’t want to. Some people come in and just want to shop on their own.”

Gurka and Aguilar say they’re going to be installing more cameras inside and outside the store to deter this from happening again, among other potential solutions.

“We definitely want to implement on our busier times maybe a two-man shift or a three-man shift,” Gurka said. “We thought about hiring security for the door like we do for our big events because we do sell valuable stuff in here that people want to get their hands on.”

But one thing they won’t be doing is locking up their product.

“That takes away from the vibe and the atmosphere we created from day one,” Gurka said. “If me having a product out on the shelf makes you feel initiative to steal it, then the problem is you. Every store in the College Station area, minus a few smoke shops, don’t have their products locked up.”

Gurka says in 2021 alone, Elevated gave away $43,000 worth of free product in discounts and savings to their customers.

“We do a massive veterans discount,” Gurka, who is a veteran himself, said. “We know veterans struggle with pills, and we do a lot of work with veterans charities because we knew that firsthand going in that’s a big issue.”

“We try to just be as nice as we can and make everyone feel welcome, so it’s kind of frustrating in a sense of that it’s almost like they’re trying to take advantage of our kindness,” Aguilar said. “Hopefully we can catch them and set a standard so people won’t do this anymore.”

“The group that came on New Year’s Eve, I’m sorry, but you will be found,” Gurka said. “The other group with the masks, creative job with the masks, but we’ll find you too. Don’t worry.”

If you might know who these people are or have any information, you’re asked to contact the College Station Police Department.

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