Police were led to a drugs farm in Thornaby – after spotting kids running away from it clutching cannabis plants.
Officers received reports that youngsters were taking drugs out of a property on Stranton Street in the town.
Drugs teams then found a cannabis farm split between two upstairs in a terraced house on Sunday, September 15.
Large vents were taped to the ceiling and sheets hiding the illegal activity were placed over windows.
But Teesside Crown Court heard that the next day, police officers received further reports that youths had broken into the crime scene and taken more plants.
And luckily for officers who went along to try and catch the youngsters, occupier Jacek Sztyruk turned up.
The 29-year-old confirmed he lived at the property and was arrested.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said that 57 cannabis plants were identified, with a street value of between £15,960 and £44,880.
Ms Haigh said as some plants had been stolen, police were unable to say how big the farm could have been.
Sztyruk, of no fixed abode, said he had grown the plants previously in Poland.
Kelleigh Lodge, mitigating, said that Sztyruk had no contacts or associates, and had grown the plants as his “own endeavour”.
She said some would be for personal use, but he also planned to sell some cannabis oil from this latest crop to cancer sufferers.
He’s now admitted producing a Class B drug, his first offence, and has been visited by immigration officers in custody to speak about deportation.
Judge Peter Armstrong told Sztyruk, through an interpreter: “This case is different to the usual sort we see, where foreign nationals are doing someone else’s bidding by minding and tending to a drugs farm.
“This was your own venture, which is an aggravating factor.”
He jailed him for 12 months, but said deportation would be a matter for the Border Agency.