It’s the feel-good story of the day. About 750 marijuana plants were stolen from a Farmington, Maine law enforcement storage building overnight last week. The storage facility is only half a mile from the police station.
Farmington police officers discovered the break-in Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., according to Police Chief Jack Peck, reports David Robinson of the Central Maine Morning Sentinel.
An overhead garage door had been “pried open” and about three-quarters of the 1,000 marijuana plants seized earlier on Tuesday in a northern Franklin County drug raid and stored in facility that night, were gone gone gone, according to Peck.
The storage facility is only one-half mile from the Farmington police station, on U.S. Route 2, also known as Farmington Falls Road.
|Photo: Franklin County Daily Bulldog|
|Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck was sworn in less than a month ago — and now this! The red-faced chief found himself explaining the disappearance of 750 pot plants last week.|
Two electronic garage doors are the only entrances to the building, Peck said, and the police department has the only remotes to open the doors.
Nothing other than the marijuana was taken, according to Peck.
Interviews of residents in adjoining homes — some of them less than 20 feet away! — turned up “no witnesses,” according to Peck. Such a shame!
Even better, overnight rain may have interfered with an attempt by a state police K-9 to track the marijuana. The dog lost the scent at High Street — no, really — I swear it’s true!
Maine State Police and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency are “assisting” in the investigation. Officials with the MDEA did not return requests for comment, which isn’t surprising since their investigation is likely going nowhere and discovering nothing.
“We have no witnesses or suspects,” Peck said.
Law enforcement officials hauled the plants to the Farmington storage facility Tuesday night, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. He was not able to provide the exact time of delivery.
While town police store their evidence at the station, it is common practice for outside law enforcement agencies to request overnight storage at the U.S. Route 2 facility.
|Hey guys, tell us the story about the 750 that got away.|
The MDEA got the OK from Peck to store the pot plants overnight in the locked garage, which is traditionally used for storing tires, a police bicycle and hazard signs, until agents could return and transport the crop to be destroyed, reports Bobbie Hanstein of the Franklin County Daily Bulldog.
MDEA agents worked until 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night unloading the plants that were transported from Phillips and the Weld area. On a visit to the garage at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ed Hastings, an investigator with the state’s Fire Marshal’s Office, and Chief Peck discovered that one garage door had been pried open.
They could see some pot plants still inside, but nothing close to the 1,000 plants that were supposed to be in there.
“I called MDEA and said, ‘You’re never going to believe this, but your marijuana plants were stolen,’ ” Peck said.
“To my understanding it was the plan to move the marijuana plants Wednesday,” Peck said.
There are — get this — no alarms or security lighting at the building, according to Peck, and the only lighting is provided by lights along the road.
Peck said he plans to “discuss” installing an alarm system with town selectmen.
“It’s not designed, nor was it, to be a evidence storage facility,” Peck said.
The incident is sure to have an impact on how and where law enforcement agencies choose to keep their “evidence,” especially if it’s cannabis.
“The DEA will be reviewing their policies as to where evidence is stored temporarily or permanently in the state as a result of this,” McCausland said.
In the meantime, all of the items stored in the garage have been removed until a new door (and probably alarm) can be installed.
“We won’t be storing any more evidence in there,” Peck said.
The marijuana plants had been confiscated from the properties of a father and son in Phillips, Maine, according to McCausland.
Tad Smith, 45, and Joseph Smith, 64, were both charged with felony cultivation of marijuana after multiple law enforcement agencies early Tuesday morning claimed they discovered the plants on and around their properties.
(As an aside, I’m reading the book Witchgrass by Dave Wilkinson right now, and the synchronicity is very Jungian.)
If convicted of the charge, both father and son face up to 10 years in prison, according to McCausland.
Materials linked to “processing marijuana,” such as packaging materials and scales, were also found during the raid, McCausland claimed.
Seventeen handguns were also seized from the father and son during the raid. No charges were filed relating to the handguns.
Both men had been released Tuesday on $500 cash bail each.
Police are asking for help if anyone “saw anything suspicious” between 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 and 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8 to call (207) 778-6311.
Rumor has it that folks are calling in to report they saw police stealing someone’s pot.