OAKLAND -- They didn't get the burglar but police responding to a reported break-in Wednesday morning at an East Oakland building made a bigger find: a sophisticated indoor marijuana-growing operation of 2,300 plants with an estimated street value of more than $2 million.
It is one of the largest seizures of marijuana by police in recent memory.
Officers said the burglar was actually trying to steal tools and copper fittings from the business and may not have even known there was a bigger treasure inside.
The tools and copper fittings were found in a trash can near where the burglar was first spotted.
The marijuana discovery was made on both floors of a two-story building in the 5800 block of Foothill Boulevard about 4:10 a.m. Wednesday.
Police were first notified by residents in the area that someone was taking items out of the rear of the building, which has signs advertising it is as a remodeling supply company. The building is flanked on both sides by churches.
When officers arrived the burglar, who was in the rear, fled back inside and escaped from another part of the building before additional officers arrived.
Officers decided to search the building to see if other suspects or victims were inside.
No people were found but officers did uncover nine growing rooms with 2,300 plants in various stages of growth as well as some finished product. Because of the quality of the weed, investigators estimated it's street value to be at least $2 million.
All the rooms were equipped with hydroponics lighting, ventilation and watering systems to help with the growing and harvest, police said.
There were no documents found indicating the marijuana was intended for medicinal purposes, police said. The marijuana was packed into 16 large garbage bags and transported to police headquarters where it will eventually be destroyed.
Police are trying to determine who owns the building and the marijuana grow. A telephone number listed for the business was no longer in service.