A man renting a home in San Francisco’s Richmond District was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegal cultivation and possession of 81 marijuana plants with the intent to sell them, as well as utility theft, a police captain said.
Not only did 41-year-old Scott “Cholho” Wolff allegedly steal power from PG&E and use the electricity to illegally cultivate marijuana, he also put his neighbors’ safety in jeopardy when he tampered with an electrical utility box, according to San Francisco police Capt. Simon Silverman, who runs the city’s Richmond police station.
The residence where Wolff was found at home with the marijuana plants is located on 19th Avenue near Balboa Street, Silverman said.
The captain said electrical fires have been known to occur when unlicensed individuals tamper with utility boxes.
Like many of the homes in the Richmond District, Silverman said, “This home is surrounded on all sides by other homes and the irresponsible actions of the grower posed a threat to his neighbors.”
Wolff was taken into police custody on Wednesday afternoon after police searched the residence, Silverman said.
The captain said that about two weeks prior to Wolff’s arrest, a roofing contractor told the landlord of the property that he smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the home.
The landlord was then painting the exterior of the property on Wednesday when he noticed a new conduit leading from the electrical box to the interior of the home. He called PG&E and asked them to look into the unauthorized modification, according to Silverman.
PG&E determined that the main electrical box had indeed been tampered with and immediately shut off electricity to the residence. PG&E reported the utility theft to police for further investigation, Silverman said.
Officers arriving at the home on Wednesday could smell a strong odor of marijuana from the sidewalk, Silverman said.
During a search of the home, officers discovered lighting and watering systems supporting the 81 marijuana plants, each about 3 to 4 feet tall.
All the plants were seized by police and booked as evidence, Silverman said.
Silverman said that in order for Wolff’s operation to be considered legal in San Francisco, it would have needed to be approved for medical cannabis use and would never have been permitted to operate in a residential neighborhood because of the severe fire hazard.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News