VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — An owner of Papa Joe’s Smoke Shop says Virginia Beach police raided the store on Lynnhaven Road Thursday.
“Officers came in, told everyone to put their hands up, they locked the doors,” said Emily Chianelli, who owns the shop with her husband, Rob.
The Chianellis told 10 On Your Side that police focused their efforts on the store’s “glass gallery,” seizing glass pipes.
Three employees, a manager and an owner were charged with selling drug paraphernalia, Rob Chianelli said.
This was the second time that the store was reportedly raided in recent years.
According to state law, sale of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, for which a person can be charged if he or she sells a product “knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that it is either designed for use or intended by such person for use to illegally… inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body marijuana or a controlled substance”
But according to Chianelli, the pipes that were seized can be used for tobacco use. She noted that a sign in the store reads “any mention of an illegal substance will result in refusal of service.”
On the store’s Facebook page, 10 On Your Side located two reviews wherein users claimed they had been kicked out for mentioning drugs.
“My girlfriend asked me a question about something located in the store being used for weed. She was immediately kicked out of the store,” read a one-star review posted in February.
“There’s at least 15 shops, especially down at the Oceanfront, that are selling the same thing we are,” Chianelli said. “Nothing’s being done about that and I feel like, why come out [here], this is a family business, our family business, and I feel targeted and it hurts and I’m angry and we’re gonna fight.”
10 On Your Side went to the Oceanfront Thursday night. Walking a few blocks, our crews observed several shops with visible glass pipes. One hung a sign that read “for tobacco use only.”
10 On Your Side has reached out to police for more information, but had not received a call back as of late Thursday night.
The store will reopen for business on Friday.
This is a developing story. Stay with WAVY.com for the latest updates.