The Growhouse That Just Keeps Giving: Sunset Marijuana Operation Burns, Then Serves as Burglar Magnet

Categories: Crime

Like the warehouses of unscrupulous businessmen mired in debt, Marijuana growhouses have a nasty habit of bursting into flames. But while the practice of "insurandburn" at least benefits someone, everyone loses when a clandestine urban pot farm goes up in smoke: The big-time dealers who own the thousands of plants, the small-time hoods who run the operation, the electric company cheated by the faulty wiring job (which started the blaze), and, of course, the neighbors menaced by the fire.

And yet, even after being burned and stormed by the cops, a Sunset District growhouse continues to be a headache for its neighbors, transforming from a budding business to a dessicated husk to be picked clean by gleaners.

The house on the 200 block of Ortega, which burned last month, began attracting folks who apparently wished to kick-start a growing operation of their own.

Neighbors on Tuesday noticed paneling stripped from the side of the house and an "unfamiliar red car" parked in front (note to would-be miscreants: Ixnay on the flashy red car!). One day later, a neighbor noticed the car again, and a stranger tooling around in the ex-growhouse's backyard.

Police subsequently pulled up as the interloper was calmly wheeling a handtruck stacked with an automatic timer and lint trap kit (that's meant for dryers or ventilation systems). In the red car were a lighting system (ahem), an air conditioning unit, and metal fan purloined from the house. We're guessing he wasn't hoping to grow tomatoes.

The suspect -- wanted on felony theft charges in Fresno and on probation in San Mateo County -- was arrested for burgary and on the outstanding warrant. His neighbors have been spared the eventuality of calling the fire department. 

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