Police are investigating a series of attacks on marijuana delivery drivers in Portland, Maine, the latest of which took place Tuesday night.
Two people held a medical marijuana delivery driver at gunpoint with semi-automatic handguns around 8:30 p.m. at the Wellesley Estates apartments on Forest Ave., according to Portland Police Lt. Robert Martin.
When the driver said he did not have cash, he was hit with a gun and had money, marijuana, cannabis products and other personal items stolen, Martin said. The robbers ran on foot towards the Riverton Park housing complex down the street.
“Years ago we had similar incidents ... we saw a lot of pizza delivery drivers getting robbed,” Martin said Thursday.
However, Martin explained, the marijuana driver attacks and thefts are a bit different, because the drivers are carrying both cash and a product that has value.
They are also meeting customers in parking lots when it’s dark as opposed to other, more high traffic areas.
“There’s really no way for them to be safe in an open parking lot or open area at 8 p.m.,” Martin said of the drivers, adding, “it just creates a whole new level of safety concerns for these individuals.”
Portland police became particularly concerned after Tuesday’s incident because of the additional weapons, which were not present during similar robberies this past October on Auburn and Danforth streets.
“That level of violence that occurred the other night was over the top,” Martin said.
The risk is now much higher, “someone’s going to be seriously hurt or killed during one of these incidents,” he said.
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To help thwart more attacks, Portland police are telling marijuana delivery drivers to meet customers in public spaces during daylight hours, get dashcams and provide as much information as they can to investigators.
The thieves have been using stolen drivers licenses, stolen medical marijuana cards and giving fake addresses to drivers and some of the thefts have gone unreported.
Still, Martin believes there’s been hesitation for people involved in marijuana sales to contact authorities.
“They don’t want to bring a tarnish to the industry and that can’t be a fear of theirs,” he said. “If they’re legitimately conducting business, there’s no issue.”
Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to contact Portland police.