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Thieves cut through steel walls, stole $250K worth of marijuana set to be sold the next day

Mark Michaelson/Cascade Mountain

KELSO, Wash. — A band of thieves reportedly cut through steel walls at a marijuana production facility and stole 150 pounds of dried pot waiting to be transported to a processing plant.

Kelso police confirmed officers were investigating the heist of roughly $250,000 worth of marijuana.

The facility, Cascade Mountain, has several surveillance cameras that showed the thieves walking around with headlamps and cutting through various walls before breaking into the drying room and scooping the plants into bags.

“I’m still in a little bit of a state of shock,” said Mark Michaelson, manager, on Tuesday, Sept. 3 as he showed KPTV the nearly empty room.

“This room — clear to the ceiling — was completely full,” Michaelson said. “They literally cut a hole through the heavy steel siding, sheetrock, and all the insulation — cut a hole in and literally crawled like rats through that hole.”

Michaelson said the cameras captured five men and a woman orchestrating the theft early Sunday morning, Sept. 1 at the facility off Parrott Way.

Some of the still images produced from the surveillance video showed the thieves’ faces clearly.

Michaelson said the harvest took three months to produce, and just a couple hours to steal.

“It’s heart-sickening,” Michaelson said. “It was just sickening — almost kind of surreal to walk around and see what they had destroyed.”

Michaelson’s daughter owns the business. He owns another marijuana growing and processing facility in Vancouver. He said it’s unclear if his daughter will be able to stay in business after the break-in and theft.

“It’s going to be tough to survive this one,” Michaelson said.

He said he doesn’t expect insurance to cover the loss.

Cascade Mountain officials said a flawed security system failed to notify police of the break-in.

Michaelson believes the thieves were tipped off about the crop.

“They come in literally the day before this stuff was ready to be trimmed and sold — and literally took everything,” Michaelson said. “Do I believe they were tipped off that there was dry product in this facility? 100%. There’s no question. The timing was too good.”

Cascade Mountain officials offered a $5,000 cash reward for tips to identify the thieves.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to contact Kelso police.

“The bottom line is, right now, I really want to catch them,” said Michaelson. “I really, really do.”

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