Credit: Emilie Johnson | Mustang News

The San Luis Obispo community has rallied around the Hemp Shak after a break-in two weeks ago, including support from surrounding businesses in posting rewards flyers and donating percentages of their proceeds to assist in getting the Hemp Shak back on its feet.

The downtown San Luis Obispo store the Hemp Shak was broken into and robbed between Sunday, Jan. 5 from 6 p.m. to Monday, Jan. 6 at 11 a.m., according to Lt. John Villanti from the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD). 

“The one important thing I am taking away from this is that there is so much more good than bad in the world,” Hemp Shak owner Katy Hemler said. “There are so many people that care. I would much rather focus on the positive than to get weighed down by the trauma and the negative.”

Many businesses have offered their support, including Kin Coffee Bar, Unique Selections, Blackwater, Hands Gallery and Central Coast Floats.

The Hemp Shak is selling raffle tickets to raise money to recover after the burglary. Hands Gallery and Central Coast Floats donated the raffle prizes. 

The owners of Unique Selections helped put together flyers and donate a percentage of their sales to the Hemp Shak. Rewards flyers that feature pictures of some of the stolen items are available at the Hemp Shak. 

The burglar came in through the front door after breaking the lock, according to Hemler. SLOPD said that they had not found surveillance footage of the burglary located at 781 Higuera St., but the investigation is still ongoing.

“We are trying to come up with leads and comb through any physical evidence,” Villanti said. “If we lifted a print or if we come up with any other evidence, we’ll try to determine if we can get some type of lead off of that.” 

SLOPD has not uncovered any new information about this crime according to Hemler. However, Hemler said that someone gave an anonymous tip to the police, which may prompt a new lead.

None of the stolen items have been recovered by SLOPD and Hemler has not received further information about the anonymous tip.

“I am hoping something will turn up soon,” Hemler said. “I would like to put this behind me. It’s been a really bad experience.”

About $5,000 worth of merchandise is missing altogether. SLOPD does not have an inventory of all the stolen items yet, according to Villanti. Hemler reported that those responsible took $3,000 worth of home-made CBD (cannabidiol) products along with most of the store’s crystals, clothing, jewelry and art.

Hemler said she found a knife in her shop, which she turned over to SLOPD for fingerprints. 

“I am just hoping and praying that maybe some fingerprints will be matched,” Hemler said. 

Hemler said she was surprised to find out that the city does not have business-facing cameras downtown. However, she said she is asking nearby businesses to check their personal surveillance videos of the street from Sunday night and Monday morning to gather more information about this crime. 

Since the break-in, Hemler said she has installed a security camera that points out at the street that shows the inside and outside of the shop. 

Liam Mello, Hemler’s son, was set to open the store on Monday when he discovered the break-in.

“When I went in and saw that they had taken everything, it was crazy,” Hemler said. “My brain just shut off. It was such a crazy experience, like I don’t know what’s going on here. It was so surreal and violating. My heart just broke.”

The burglary comes amid difficulties for the store due to the pandemic, according to Hemler. 

“The thing that is the hardest is a couple of months back I was struggling, and I couldn’t afford to pay my insurance,” Hemler said. “This was the first time the shop didn’t have insurance. When they broke in, it was crazy because that day, I had a list of things to do and on that list was to reinstate my insurance.”

The Hemp Shak has been a part of the San Luis Obispo community since 1996 and has been owned by Katy Hemler for more than two years. Regardless of the recent burglary, the Hemp Shak will remain open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 

“We are going to continue to push through this rough year,” Hemler said.New inventory has been ordered, and Hemler said she has started to remake the CBD products to replace what was stolen. A GoFundMe has been made to aid in the shop’s recovery from the incident.

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