Darby home invasion leads to huge pot plant bust

May 15, 2012 2:49:16 PM PDT
Darby Borough Police responded to a report of shots fired during a home invasion late Monday night, but when they arrived on scene they discovered a large-scale marijuana growing operation inside the house.

Police hauled out plant after plant of cannabis from a home on the 1100 block of Glen Avon Road overnight. Police had to rent a truck in order to transport the evidence to the police station, even leaving other equipment and handbooks on growing marijuana behind.

The homeowner, 52-year-old Daniel Thomas, was arrested on drug charges after a series of events that unfolded around 9:00 p.m. Monday.

Police had responded to reports of gunshots. Upon arrival, authorities learned of a home invasion by three armed men believed to have fired those shots.

Officers soon discovered a major marijuana growing operation allegedly run by Thomas. Police say it was that growing operation that was targeted by the robbers.

"One of the suspects apparently said to the other guy 'We hit the jackpot, and they did," said Chief Robert Smyth of the Darby Police Department. "There's still stuff in the back we haven't brought out yet."

212 pot plants were found. Police say they also discovered mason jars full of buds that, police say, would go for between $500 and $1,500 each.

Police describe an extensive set-up complete with mechanical lights, an irrigation system, deodorizers to cover the smell and a propane heater.

"If something went wrong with the propane tank and that propane tank would have blown, we would have lost three to four houses," Chief Smythe said.

Neighbors were stunned to learn what was going on inside what they describe as a quiet home. A porch swing sits behind the landscaped yard.

"I'm really in shock. I'm telling you this guy's quiet, keeps to himself, I think he's an arborist, he does landscaping, nicest yard on the block," said David Jackson.

No detailed description was provided about the suspects, though apparently they were wearing medical masks.