Usually, detectives follow leads, but in a recent case in Portland, Me, this amateur sleuth followed the leaves after his prized and impressively sized cannabis plant went missing from his garden.

Shortly before 5:30 am this past Sunday, Jay York reports he was at home when he thought he heard a phone ring that wasn’t his, according to News Center Maine.

Immediately concerned that someone was in his yard, where the four-month-old jewel of his garden was fenced and supposedly protected, he looked out the window and saw that, indeed, it was gone, having been ripped from the ground.

He went outside and that is where the sleuthing began. Of course, calling it sleuthing may be generous; it was more a matter of following the leader.

There, on the ground, York saw a leaf, News Center Maine reports. Flashlight in hand, he began walking and quickly picked up the trail and followed it over the next couple of hours, spying leaves, clumps of dirt and other clues ever three metres or so that had leaked from the stolen plant.

His Facebook post details where he tracked the stolen plant. “From my house down the path behind the Franklin Towers garage and across the arterial. Through the Boyd Street Urban Farm and up Oxford Street to Smith Street. There the trail got cold but after an hour of searching I found it again.”

The trail ended at an address. York knocked on the door and confronted a man inside, only to be met by denials, even as he presented the trail of evidence.

York ended up getting the plant, which he estimates is worth US$1,000, News Center Maine reports. Thrilled, he began to inspect the plant for damage and realized it was in really rough shape. “Oh god. It was so close to being a wonderful plant,” he later said.

The weed he grows is used to make tinctures for himself and his friends, York noted.

In Maine, there is no penalty for a person of legal age to possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana or to cultivate three or fewer plants, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Hoping for the best, York reported he expects to start harvesting the plant this week and to fill out a police report.

Noted one Facebook comment regarding York’s love lost and love found: “I love that this story made it to newscenter… you looked great! Nice work detective York!”

The men had what they believed to be weed, but turned out to be high-CBD plants from a nearby legal grow. / Photo: screen capture from dash-cam footage, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office / Photo: screen capture from dash-cam footage, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office

Another comment offered some sage advice for York’s future gardening endeavours. “You need to put some “juice” to that fence next year!”

Reports of stealing weed plants seem to be increasing on both sides of the border. Late last month in Chatham, Ont., a resident noticed a thief trying to take his legally cultivated weed, called police and then stepped outside to detain the bud burglar until police arrived.

Also in late September, four men in Oregon walking down the side of a highway carrying big bags of plants stolen from a nearby legal grow now face charges. But the joke was on them: the plants were actually low-THC hemp.

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