Utility theft investigation leads to marijuana bust
■ Hemet Police Department / Contributed
An investigation at a home in Hemet regarding a possible theft of electricity led to the seizure and destruction of more than 1,200 illegal marijuana plants on Aug. 1.
On July 31, members of the Hemet Police Department’s R.O.C.S. (Restoring Our Community Strategy) Team received information about a home in the 1000 block of Indiangrass Dr. that was possibly stealing large amounts of electricity. When R.O.C.S. Detectives responded to the residence they were able to smell what they believed to be marijuana and could hear what sounded like large fans inside the home. Detectives had obtained information that led them to believe the home’s power meter had been bypassed.
Last Wednesday morning, R.O.C.S. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the home and by that afternoon they served the warrant with assistance from the Hemet Police Department’s Crime Suppression Unit (CSU) and patrol officers.
During the search, detectives discovered that every room in the two-story home contained growing equipment and marijuana plants in various stages of growth. It was also confirmed that the home’s power meter had been bypassed and was potentially a hazard to the neighborhood. Hemet’s Code Enforcement Department responded to the scene to inspect the home and declared it unsafe to occupy.
More than 1,200 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed in compliance with the warrant. Four suspects were located inside the home and all were detained. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that no one involved had owned the home. All suspects were initially released except one – Jingwen Zhao, 43, was arrested for unlawful cultivation of marijuana. He was later released with a promise to appear in court.
Zhao was arrested in Hemet for the misdemeanor, but is a resident of Monterey Park. R.O.C.S. Detectives will be conducting an additional investigation into the theft of electricity. The incident is still under investigation and the names of other possible suspects involved are still pending with the case.