Easthampton man charged with stealing $5K worth of grow lights from gardening store

  • The Hampshire County Courthouse at 15 Gothic St. in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2019 2:07:59 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A 38-year-old Easthampton man with a known marijuana growing operation in his basement was arraigned Thursday in Northampton District Court on charges of breaking in and stealing more than $5,000 worth of LED grow lights from a Southampton gardening store.

John P. McDonough pleaded not guilty to charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony, larceny from a building, vandalizing property and larceny over $1,200. He was released on personal recognizance.

According to a police report written by Southampton Police Detective Sgt. David Neal, on Sept. 19 at 3:52 a.m., Neal and two other officers were called to New England Hydroponics at 15 College Highway for a report of a security alarm activation. When police arrived, they found a front window of the business smashed in.

Additional police were called to assist, including officers from Easthampton, along with its K-9 unit. When responding to the gardening store, an officer saw a car traveling fast on Coleman Road in Easthampton, crossing over the center line into the officer’s lane.


Police stopped McDonough at 4:11 a.m. Neal wrote that the Easthampton officer noticed McDonough was sweating profusely, telling police he had “stopped on Jonathan Judd Circle to smoke a joint and walk around the neighborhood for a while.”

Easthampton police arrested McDonough for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. Police noticed that McDonough’s boots and pant cuffs were wet and that the tread on his shoes had grass clippings, mud and other debris, they said.

In an inventory of McDonough’s car, officers found a police scanner tuned into the Southampton Police radio frequency, along with a black jacket, police said. Behind New England Hydroponics, police found tracks from a cart leading toward a wooded area, where the tracks stopped. Neal wrote that a suspect continuing in the same direction would have come out at Jonathan Judd Circle.

In a review of photos from the store, police observed a suspect with clothes that matched McDonough’s, with a scanner similar to the one found in his vehicle.

Neal said he was provided with an Easthampton police report from Sept. 6 that involved officers entering McDonough’s home for a well-being check. Although officers did not discover anyone inside, they found around 28 marijuana plants in the basement. McDonough returned to the home during the police check and complained to officers about how high his power costs were for his marijuana grow lights. Officers left McDonough’s home without incident, according to a police report.

Video footage from 3:42 on Sept. 19 showed a person in a black jacket walking slowly in front of the store, looking through windows and talking on a cellphone. The suspect was reportedly seen smashing a window and putting six boxes of LED grow lights on a cart, leaving the store through the broken window.

The gardening store’s owner reported six boxes of grow lights missing from his store with a total value of approximately $5,088.

McDonough is expected to appear in court on Dec. 20.


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