Alleged pot plant theft lands man behind bars
By Ken Childers
An investigation into the theft of several marijuana plants from a local growing operation led to the arrest of a 32-year-old Okemah man.
According to an affidavit, Jeffrey Mark Hart was arrested and booked into the Okfuskee County Jail on Oct. 14 on complaints of second degree burglary and destruction of private property.
On Thursday, Oct. 10 Investigator Logan Manshack of the Okfuskee County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to EVO Cannabis Farm, LLC in reference to a burglary. Michael Smith, co-owner of the business, told Manshack that during the early morning hours someone had broken into the growery and made off with six fully-grown marijuana plants.
Smith said the suspect had cut two trip wires that were set up for security measures and gained entry by defeating another trip wire hooked to an exterior gate. The suspect also left behind footprints and bicycle tire tracks, which were photographed by Manshack.
Deputy Tristin Rempe reviewed security camera footage from the scene and took two still shots of the suspect, who Manshack identified as Hart. Rempe was also able to obtain a picture of tire tread from the bicycle Hart is known to ride around town, which turned out to be match with the tire tracks left at the scene.
Manshack showed the suspect’s picture to Okfuskee County Deputies and officers with the Okemah Police Department, all of whom positively identified the suspect as Hart.
The business owners estimated the total cost of the stolen plants to be around $6,000, but Manshack did additional research and estimated the total loss to be anywhere from $27,180 to $108,720.
On Oct. 15, Manshack interviewed Hart and asked him why he was caught on the growery’s security cameras and Hart told Manshack he didn’t know what he was talking about, according to the affidavit. Hart was also asked why the tire tread marks at the scene matched his bike, to which he replied he did not know and he “was not a thief.”
According to the affidavit, the boots Hart was wearing when he was booked into the jail on Oct. 14 matched the photos of the footprints at the crime scene.
Hart has a lengthy rap sheet, according to court documents. Past charges include knowingly concealing stolen property, burglary in the second degree, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and embezzlement.
As reported in the Oct. 10 edition of the Okemah News Leader, Justin Travis White, who was arrested after authorities discovered allegedly stolen goods at his residence, told police Hart had recently approached him, wanting to sell various items including tools and lawn equipment.
Hart is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Judge Maxey Reilly’s courtroom at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31.