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Man Arrested For Over $15K in Theft of Utilities Used For Indoor Marijuana Grow

VICTORVILLE, Calif.(VVNG.com)– Authorities announced the arrest of 28-year-old Monterey Park man who stole over $15k in utilities while operating an illegal marijuana grow in the city of Victorville.

Deputy C. Sanchez, assigned to the Victorville Police Department, developed information regarding illegal narcotic activity at the residence located at 16278 Pepper Tree Drive. She began an investigation looking into a possible indoor marijuana cultivation at the location. She contacted the Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division – Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) with the information and MET investigators assumed the investigation.

On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 10:05 a.m. deputies from the Victorville Police Department and MET investigators served a search warrant at the residence and found a large-scale marijuana grow inside the house. Over 700 marijuana plants, in various stages of growth, and over 20 pounds of processed marijuana were found inside the residence. The grow operation used advanced lighting systems, air conditioning systems, fans, exhaust blowers and a filtering system to control the climate inside the house as well as the odor outside of the residence. The suspect, Hao Qu, was located inside the residence when investigators served the search warrant. He was arrested without incident.

Qu was stealing electricity at the location to facilitate the growing operation. Loss Prevention Investigators from Southern California Edison (SCE) assisted in the electrical theft investigation. Suspects who grow marijuana illicitly will commonly bypass the electrical meter installed by the electrical company. This is done because of the high amount of electricity needed to support the marijuana growing equipment. The high usage may alert the utility company or law enforcement to the marijuana grow. Additionally, the suspects do not get charged for the high amount of electricity being used.

The extreme measures taken to avoid being caught not only risks the lives of the suspects but also endangers the public living in close proximity of the residence. An electrical short caused by the modified wiring most likely would have resulted in an explosion or fire in the residential community causing possible injuries to bystanders near the residence. Crews from SCE responded to the scene and disconnected the faulty wiring and removed the electrical bypass. The theft of electricity at this location is estimated to be in excess of $15,000. The residence was “red tagged” by officers from the City of Victorville Code Enforcement Division after determining it was unsafe to occupy.

“Illegal indoor marijuana grows will not become common in our neighborhoods, said Sheriff John McMahon. “The Marijuana Enforcement Team will continue to take down these grow houses, put the operators in jail and seek restitution for the massive theft of utilities.”

The suspect, Hao Qu, was arrested and booked into the High Desert Detention Center for Cultivation of Marijuana and Theft of Utilities. His bail is set at $115,000.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation or is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division at (909)890-4840. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.

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