[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of March 5, 2010. To be added to the station's mailing list, email email@example.com.]
CAPTAIN RICHARD CORREIA’S MESSAGE
The arrest of a hit and run driver and the subsequent discovery of a Marijuana production facility in the Richmond District in the early morning hours of March 1, 2010 are recounted below. I visited the facility shortly after the arrest and want to share several of my observations.
The “grow” as it’s called in police work was in a commercial building with a store front entrance. About six feet inside the door there was a partition separating the front from the back of the store. On the ground level officers located many marijuana plants drying on lines, large bags of bulk marijuana and small bags of cut and dried product ready for sale. The magnitude of the operation was quite large in terms of the production capacity of the operation, size of the building and nature of the neighborhood.
The officers that discovered the “grow” were doing good follow up work checking on the well being of the individual injured in the accident. Their discovery of the marijuana facility, while the result of good police intuition (and sense of smell), was none-the-less, by chance. The operation may have continued on for some time without discovery had the driver not fled to his business after crashing his car. Maybe it would have never been discovered or maybe it would have come to our attention after a fire or some other criminal activity.
There are second floor residential units above the store front. My sense, given the high intensity lighting, heaters, blowers and pumps utilized in the operation, all powered through substandard wiring, was that the risk of fire was extreme. The wiring was installed without circuit breakers. Moreover, the commercial unit had been converted rather haphazardly into a residence presumably for the operators. A fire in this corner location with residential units above and wood frame construction type homes on each side could have had catastrophic results.
Given the magnitude of the operation and amount of marijuana on site, this facility was a high value target for criminals who attack illicit businesses. A “grow” like this could well have become the site of an armed “takeover” robbery or a robbery related kidnapping. The risk of harm is high when you consider that 21st Avenue and California is within a vibrant commercial area that supports nearby residents and within a block one finds Alamo School, Gold Star Laundry, Rumblefish Bistro, Rainbow Wash, Cal’s Pet Supply Aki’s Cleaners, Bazaar Café, Angelina’s and the 6001 California Market.
I am delighted that the officers discovered this illegal operation and arrested the perpetrator. The city family responded as well with firm action by the Department of Building Inspection and the Fire Department. Immediate corrective action was ordered to make the structure safe. I personally met with the Building Inspector and the Fire Inspector, and I stood by while they met with the owner of the property.
If you see anything unusual in your neighborhood, which sometimes may be a lack of usual activity or even a strange smell, please Call Richmond Station’s Resources Lieutenant Mark Mahoney at 666-8042. You can also leave a message on our anonymous tip line by calling 415 668-7387.
On 02/27/10 at 12:26 am officers on patrol in the area of Geary Boulevard and Stanyan Street observed a vehicle traveling over the speed limit (approximately 50 mph) along Geary Boulevard. The officers stopped the vehicle for the vehicle code violation and made contact with the driver who was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver failed the field sobriety tests and was consequently placed under arrest. Further investigation revealed that the driver was on probation for a prior DUI conviction.
On 02/27/10 at 9:15 pm officers stopped a vehicle with expired registration at Geary Boulevard and 20th Avenue. The driver did not have registration or proof of insurance. A computer check revealed that the driver had an expired license. The driver was arrested, cited and released.
On 02/28/10 at 12:55 pm a vehicle was double-parked in the area of 18th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. Officers determined that the registration tabs were false and the driver’s license had been suspended. The driver was arrested, cited, and released after establishing proper identity. The vehicle was towed.
On 02/28/10 at 9:06 pm a vehicle traveling northbound on Arguello was observed making a right turn on to Geary Boulevard against a red light without first stopping at the limit line and yielding the right of way. A traffic stop was conducted on the vehicle at Geary and Spruce. The officers contacted the driver who appeared intoxicated. The driver was unable to satisfactorily perform a field sobriety test and a breath test indicated that his blood alcohol level was beyond the legal limit. The driver was booked in the county jail for DUI.
On 02/28/10 just prior to midnight Officers responded to a single car injury accident on Park Presidio Boulevard. There they found an unoccupied car that had sustained serious damage after striking a light pole. They noted blood inside the car and became concerned for the driver’s well being. After determining the address of the registered owner, officers responded to the 5900 block of California Street to search for him. At a commercial building on that block officers encountered several individuals who said that the owner was in the area and covered with blood. They stated that the suspect ran out the back door of the building just as the police arrived. The officers also noticed a strong smell of marijuana. The officers went inside the building searching for the owner of the vehicle and discovered a marijuana cultivation operation. One individual was cited for delaying a police investigation and the owner of the vehicle was apprehended and arrested for numerous felony charges including cultivating marijuana, hit and run and driving under the influence. Subsequent investigation disclosed that the entire basement area of the building was setup to grow marijuana and officer confiscated 290 growing marijuana plants, including many adult plants. Additionally, many pounds of harvested drying marijuana were located inside the building, some of which was being packaged for sale.
On 03/02/10 at 9:35 am two suspects were arrested for aggravated assault in the 400 block of 33rd Avenue. The first suspect used pepper spray on the victim, causing the victim to become temporarily blinded. After a struggle, the victim was able to place his attacker in a headlock. The second suspect, a female with keys in hand, began striking the victim on his head. The victim found himself going through the glass wall of a bus shelter, causing it to break. The victim was lying on broken glass on the ground and both suspects kicked him numerous times. Nearby witnesses called 911 for assistance. The suspects were apprehended before they were able to flee the scene. Both suspects were arrested. The victim was treated for minor injuries.
On 03/02/10 at 7:18 pm a motorcycle was stopped for a signal light violation. The rider was unable to provide his license to the officers. A computer check revealed that the rider’s license was expired. The rider did not have any photo id on his person therefore he was transported to Richmond Station for proper identification. The rider was cited and released from Richmond Station. The motorcycle was towed.
On 03/02/10 at 8:42 pm a victim was attacked by his neighbor in the 1900 Block of Broderick Street. The suspect first came towards the victim with a metal pipe then with a meat cleaver while threatening to kill him. The suspect was arrested and booked at the county jail for threats and possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to assault.
On 03/03/10 at 11:23 pm a vehicle was observed going through an intersection without stopping for the posted stop sign in the area of Geary Boulevard and Arguello Boulevard. The vehicle was stopped and the officers immediately smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the inside of the vehicle. The results of the breath test were unfavorable to the driver and he was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Further investigation revealed that the driver was on probation for a previous DUI conviction.
On 03/01/10 at 9:00 pm an unknown suspect pried open a lock box in the 200 block of 23rd Avenue and stole a key that allowed entry into the garage. The suspect stole a bicycle and miscellaneous power tools. There were no witnesses.
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