ID theft warrant leads to pot bust in Hamilton Twp.

HAMILTON TWP., N.J. - March 7, 2014

Police were investigating the credit card fraud case for several weeks and caught up with the alleged thieves at their home.

When officers walked inside, they not only found evidence of that theft, they also stumbled upon a massive marijuana farm being grown in the basement.

Police seized big screen TVs, stereo equipment, and even a tank of diesel fuel from the house off of Harding Highway - the fruits of a regional credit card scheme that has landed a Hamilton township couple behind bars.

Captain Chris Ruef of Egg Harbor Township Police explains, "We had at least two incidents in Egg Harbor Township, and there were some others regionally. And through the investigation and through video and some other methods that we use, we were able to determine that the suspects were two individuals here."

The extent of the credit card theft and the number of victims is still under investigation.

"They had a credit card press machine - they were making credit cards in there," said Captain Ruef.

What started out as a case of identity theft has blown up into a multiple agency drug investigation, following an unexpected discovery.

Captain Ruef tells us, "We've seized what we estimate, what the state police estimate is $200,000 worth of marijuana that was growing in the basement."

The massive hydroponic growing operation included an irrigation system, lights, and fans. Law enforcement also learned that the couple was stealing electricity to feed the home and marijuana farm downstairs.

Captain Ruef says, "They had an elaborate system where water flows through the roots and the plants grow better that way."

The couple's child was taken out of the home and placed with a family member. Two dogs and a guinea pig were also removed by Animal Control. A truck that was used in the commission of the crimes was also seized.

"We are going to take everything they bought with the fraudulent credit cards... Electronic equipment, it looks like snow blowers, lawn mowers, some high end stuff some low end stuff," said Captain Ruef.

One of the cases involved a large theft of diesel fuel, so police confiscated an entire tank of fuel from the backyard.

Right now it is just those two suspects in custody, but police are going to continue to investigate if others are involved and how many victims may have been impacted.

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