WHITE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A hemp grower returns from the weekend to discover tens of thousands of dollars of his crop missing from his drying facility in Sparta.
Mike Zuercher recalled wrapping up his day working at his hemp drying facility in White County around four o’clock Saturday night.
“Everything was here in order and great,” said Zuercher.
But come Monday morning, Zuercher and owner of the operation Jody Wilson noticed things looked different.
“Something wasn’t right,” said Wilson. “We got to looking and a lot of the totes were missing.”
The loss, according to Wilson, is 250 pounds of his smokeable hemp ready to be sold plus around $5,000 worth of equipment – the total is about $50,000.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Wilson.
For Zuercher and Wilson, it’s a reality they said is becoming more of a problem with the popularity of the crop in Tennessee.
“You always hear stories of it happens to other people,” said Wilson. “You never think it’s going to happen to you, until now.”
Court documents show detectives were able to get a fingerprint for testing.
But with no surveillance system at the time, Zuercher said the crime happened at the perfect time.
“Had it ordered. Didn’t show up before the weekend. I had to go out of town,” said Wilson. “Come back Monday, the security system got here Monday or Tuesday. It was just a little too late.”
Wilson said the suspects likely entered through a gap from the garage door left open for ventilation.
It’s now part of a new set of changes.
First, that gap is now smaller, there’s a new surveillance system, and also there’s a change in operations.
“I generally don’t work on Sundays. Now, I’m going to have to to make sure all things are here,” said Zuercher.
Wilson said, he’s hopeful who’s responsible will be caught.
“I would just like to have our stuff back,” said Wilson.
Until then, it’s a tough lesson Wilson had to learn the hard way.
“Just have to have better security. This stuff is wide open for thieves,” said Wilson.
The White County Sheriff’s is investigating the case.
So far, there are no suspects.
Wilson said he hopes what remains of his crop will help to cover the losses.