$280K Electricity Bill Leads To Discovery Of Illegal Grow-Op

Cannabis Growers Use Stolen Electricity to Power Their Operation

We’ve all been shocked by our electricity bills at least once. That high price may have left you cycling through your memory: did I have too many things plugged in? Did I leave a few too many lights on? Next time this happens, just be thankful your bill isn’t as high as the four Cali-based homes in this story.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, four houses in San Jacinto, California, were busted for growing two tons of weed – and they used stolen electricity to power the operation.

The stolen electricity reportedly amounted to a jaw-dropping price: $280,000 dollars.

It is unknown whether the utility supplier, Edison International, prompted the raids by reporting the suspiciously high electricity use to the police, or if they were informed after the fact.

Either way, members of the local sheriff’s station obtained four search warrants relating to illegal indoor residential cannabis cultivation and sales. These warrants were executed this summer and led to a discovery of a two-and-a-half-ton stash of cannabis.

According to a police report, the stash consisted of 4,901 plants and 110 pounds of processed cannabis. Also seized were materials likely related to the growing process: 80 fans, packaging, 145 lights, two air conditioning units, and 142 ballasts.

So, where did all this energy come from? Edison was able to locate an illegal electrical bypass underneath the meters of all four locations.

“Indoor marijuana cultivation negatively impacts the neighborhoods, property value, and environment,” Sherriff Chad Blanco wrote in a statement. “It diminishes and poisons the water table and pesticides, adversely [affecting] the health of neighboring residents.”

Police detained one person from one of the grow houses, who was subsequently arrested for maintaining a drug house, theft of utilities, marijuana cultivation, and marijuana sales.

Stealing Electricity For Grow-Ops? Is That A Thing?


San Jacinto isn’t the only city to bust an operation like this. In July, a utility crew working on a New York house agreed that it was suspicious how the home’s owner wouldn’t allow them to turn off the power to run a safety check. Police were called and found something clearly suspicious.

“Investigation by the linemen indicated that wires had been overloaded and damaged by excessive electricity use from the house,” the police report stated. It adds that the homeowner “reached over the Eversource lineman and placed an envelope in the pocket of the lineman’s vest. The lineman saw that the envelope contained US$100 bills.”

An inspection revealed that the home was using $10,000 in electricity every month – the home’s wires had been “overloaded and damaged by excessive electricity use,” a police statement said.

Clearly, illegal grow-ops are not easy to pull off – and they’re certainly not worth the pricey electricity bill.