Police in Guelph say they seized marijuana plants worth an estimated $286,000 from a Guelph home that was set up to circumvent hydro meters.

A search warrant was executed at a Victoria Road residence around 8 p.m. Thursday.

Police say they found a “highly sophisticated” marijuana-growing operation in a house they had been monitoring for some time.

“Our drug unit has been looking into this home for a little while now, and their investigation has led them to do a search warrant,” said Const. Mike Gatto.

“In this case, they actually had a kind of early warning detection system set up so if someone tried to read the meter at their home, they’d be alerted to that and all the power would be automatically shut off.”

Neighbours say they rarely saw anyone entering or leaving the house, and the driveway was almost always devoid of vehicles – but they were still surprised to learn what was inside.

“It’s a residential neighbourhood, it’s a main street,” said neighbour David Snell.

“Maybe the amount of traffic on Victoria Road would make somebody think they could do that and get away with it here.”

A total of 286 marijuana plants were seized from the home. Also removed were $7,000 worth of growing equipment, including scales and wrapping machines, $1,600 worth of dry marijuana and other property.

Police suspect another $80,000 worth of marijuana from the house had already hit the streets.

Two Guelph men, aged 49 and 52, are facing charges of electricity theft, theft under $5,000, production of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

The 49-year-old was also charged with breach of recognizance.