EAST LIVERPOOL - After a Hall China Co. security guard saw suspicious activity Sunday night and called police, officers came upon a marijuana-growing operation.
The guard reported seeing four men carrying items back and forth to a van, and police thought the pottery was being broken into, according to Captain Patrick Wright.
Patrolman John Headley arrived on the scene and saw two people speeding away on a dirt bike and a four-wheeler and others running into nearby woods. He also spotted four buckets sitting at the edge of the woods containing large marijuana plants.
ELPD officers discovered marijuana plants Sunday evening in a wooded area near Hall China in East Liverpool. Four additional plants were found at a separate location in the woods behind the East End facility. Police say it’s believed four suspects are involved with the marijuana growing operation, and although a search of the area was conducted, no one was found.
Officers trekked into the woods, located between Harvey Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue Extension, and found a "grow patch," with four more large plants in the ground and about a dozen plots prepared for planting others, Wright reported.
"We could hear someone in the brush," Wright said, so the department's new K-9 unit of Patrolman Chad Tatgenhorst and Ivo were called out. The team had just started on the job Saturday night.
"Ivo found the scent and tracked it up to Pennsylvania Avenue, where he lost it. They may have gotten into a vehicle," Wright said.
A vehicle found at the grow site that is thought to have been involved was towed from the scene, as were all the plants, which could have a street value of $8,000 based on Wright's estimate of $1,000 per plant.
Asked if the property owner is known, Wright said it is not but that "most people sneak onto property" to start such a growing operation.