Burglars interrupted at Templeton cannabis farm

October 21, 2019

Photo by Jason Brock


Workers at a cannabis cultivation site on York Mountain Road in Templeton interrupted three burglars early Monday morning.

Shortly after 6 a.m., workers discovered the thieves in the act of taking hemp plants. The startled thieves dropped the plants and fled into a creek bed.

“Deputies, a CHP helicopter and a sheriff’s K9 searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects,” said Tony Cipolla, the sheriff’s department spokesman.

In the past, reports of burglaries at hemp farms were not that common. But because the plants are easily mistaken for marijuana, harvest season has led to two reported burglaries and one case of vandalism in SLO County.

Even though marijuana and hemp are both members of the cannabis family, they have different levels of THC, the intoxicant in pot, creating vastly different profit margins; marijuana sells for about four times the price of hemp.

SLO County requires commercial hemp cultivators to place signage describing the plants as hemp, and not marijuana. And these signs appeared to be missing from the York Mountain Road site.

“The suspects may not have realized they were hemp plants they were trying to take since cannabis and hemp plants are essentially the same plant,” Cipolla said.

For more than a year, the York Mountain Road property has been embroiled in controversy. Last year, the county planning department approved a permit for a combination 22,000 square feet indoor and 3 acre outdoor marijuana farm on the 77-acre lot.

Neighbors concerned with crime, traffic, water usage and smells appealed the project’s approval.

On March 26, Jamie Jones of Kirk Consulting negotiated a settlement agreement with neighbors to drop their appeal of the project. In exchange, Frank Ricigliano and Laura Gardner, Jones’ clients, agreed not to grow cannabis outdoors for at least 20 years.

Shortly afterwards, Ricigliano withdrew his application to grow marijuana. He then applied for and received a permit to grow 15 acres of industrial hemp, a cannabis strain.

The neighbors responded by filing a lawsuit alleging contractual violations. The case is currently winding its way through the court system.

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These burglars are the same guys who broke into Bed, Bath,and Beyond for “bath salts”.

Nice try, all. Cannabis and crime go hand in hand……always has, always will. But nice that you’d like that kind of crime-magnet activity next to your friends and neighbors. After all, property rights! We all have a right to attract thieves and violent offenders to our property lines. Enjoy the helicopters hovering overhead…..

“_______ and crime go hand in hand”. Fill in the blank with anything heavily regulated by corrupt governments.

We all have the right (according to political theory) to live our lives without fear of the religious, political, or social persecution from a minority faction… particularly one struggling with an apparent inability to recognize human differences as a positive.

That’s right! The minority faction here are the big corporate cannabis companies and their investors. Corporate greed.

Oh, look! It’s Professor “Harvard by the Highway”! I’m sure he will regale us all with his tales as to why it is racist to believe hemp growers would fail to post the signs stating that they are only growing hemp and not marijuana containing THC.

You misread: “social persecution from a minority faction” And then attack this guy because you think it’s about race?

Very mature of you and ironic that your reply included a slur about education.

He’s Walter Mitty of Ralph Snark fame, and slur is their game!

I would lay odds that this was not a crime of “mistaken identity” but a crime intending to do what it was meant to do, ridding an area of a agriculture crop that is seen as threat! Nothing more, nothing less! Someone(s) didn’t like the fact that industrial hemp replaced traditional cannabis and they retaliated.

And integritymd, I like your reasoning, but please don’t expect much support on this sight… Just sayin’!

No crap. York Mountain isn’t a major transport hub. The road only has two directions. Cops could have blocked both off before anyone could escape.

Damn dude! Don’t take the comic book characters you copied your moniker from so seriously. it ain’t becomin’! Walter Mitty would be insulted and that’s sayin’ somethin’ comin’ from a guy who’s delusions are about as off the hook as they come, right?

I know, you’re just “livin’ the/his dream”, right?

Crimes like this should be handled the same as any other legally ran business, where thieves have tried to profit from stealing property from the owner. The value of the property, degree of sophistication implemented at carrying out the act, and any other evidence gathered in bringing criminal charges against the perpetrators should be the focus of the investigation. There should be no need to debate whether the grow is the problem when it is done legally.

But we do consider the impacts of businesses on public services, including law enforcement. Sure, there have been some big ag thefts, particularly avocados in coastal valleys, but don’t pretend your business is the same. Nobody has to pay off politicians and consultants to get limited permits to grow avocados.

“Nobody has to pay off politicians and consultants to get limited permits to grow avocados.”

You’re correct, no one does. But then again avocados don’t share the illegitimate dogma that cannabis does, do they? Avocados weren’t illegitimately stigmatized and wrongly listed as a schedule 1 “drug” and outlawed, were they? Avocados aren’t fighting the federal government’s laws while being legal in California, are they? Avocados are depicted as “healthy” while the health benefits of cannabis are ridiculed and doubted, right?

Why do I bring all of that up? Because all of those things brings corruption in its wake, especially of the political version, that’s why.

I also find it hilarious that while the right rolls back government regulation on just about anything, including those things proven to kill folks, they want more and more government controls on cannabis. How ’bout some of that “self regulation” concoction y’all are so high on these days extended to cannabis? What ya say?