Neighborhood Crime Stoppers Watch Out for Pot Grows
There are a number of indicators, which may assist you in identifying a potential Marijuana Grow Operation in your neighbourhood, these include:
- Rarely does anyone appear to be at home.
- Visitors come and go at odd hours, entering/leaving the home quickly often through the garage and only for brief periods of time.
- They avoid contact with neighbours. Windows are kept closed and covered to conceal activities inside.
- Condensation may be present on window panes. [There are numerous vents to remove excessive heat use to make the plants grow faster.]
- Equipment used in the growing operation such as large fans, lights, plastic plant containers or bags of potting soil are carried into the home.
- Sounds of construction or electrical humming from equipment may be heard.
- If the home is serviced with an underground hydro service, evidence of digging in the soil around the hydro meter may be the indication of an electrical by-pass. There may be localized surges and decreases in power.
- Strange odours are coming from the house. Marijuana plants produce a unique skunk-like odour that you may occasionally smell, usually at dusk and dawn.
- Exterior appearance of the property may be untidy. There is little outside maintenance done (unshovelled snow, uncut grass, etc.), and garbage bags containing used soil and plant material may be discarded in areas surrounding the house or loaded into a vehicle for disposal.
- Mail delivered to the house may not be collected regularly resulting in an overflowing mailbox.
- Warning signs are posted in windows or around the outside of the building. These may warn people to “Beware of Dog” or that “Guard Dogs” are on the property.
Marihuana Grow Operations pose a number of potential risks and dangers to the neighbourhoods, in which they exist, including:
- POISONOUS FUMES – These may result from alterations made to the chimney venting of furnaces and hot water heaters, from chemicals used in the growing process, or from moulds that flourish in these warm moist environments.
- FIRES – Overloaded electrical systems, improper wiring and the extreme heat generated by high intensity light bulbs increase the potential for fire. A fire in a Marijuana Grow Operation has the potential to spread to neighbouring homes and present increased risks to fire fighters.
- ELECTROCUTION – Improper wiring pose risks to the occupants and visitors to the Marijuana Grow Operations. Electrical bypasses are done to facilitate the theft of electricity and they create a potential for electrocution to persons outside the home as the ground near the home may become charged with electricity.
- VIOLENCE – Operators of Marijuana Grow Operations often arm themselves with weapons, as they are potential targets of “home invasion” style robberies. This raises the risk for confrontation between the protectors and the invaders, as well as risk to police during a search warrant entry. Residents in neighbouring homes may fall victim to a “home invasion”, where the invaders target the wrong home.
- INCREASED CRIME – Money to purchase illicit drugs, including marijuana is often derived from some form of criminal activity (theft, fraud, robbery), which poses both a financial risk and a potential risk of physical harm to all members of society.
- BOOBY TRAPS – Traps may be set by the operators of Marijuana Grow Operations to protect their product from unauthorized persons entering the home or property. These traps represent a danger to the trespassers and to emergency responders.
- HIGHER UTILITY COSTS – The cultivation of marijuana requires large amounts of water and electricity. To reduce costs operators of Marijuana Grow Operations will steal these utilities from or from the utility provider a neighbour. The cost for these thefts is borne the neighbour or by the utility providers, who in turn pass the costs on to all customers in the form of increased billing rates.
- STRUCTURAL DAMAGE – Houses used as Marijuana Grow Operations are frequently modified to suit the needs of the growing operation. These modifications may affect the structural integrity of the home, as they do not comply with the Ontario Building Code. High humidity from the grow operation may also cause damage to the structure of the home or may cause excessive mould growth which may impact the health of future occupants.
- ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE – Chemicals used in the grow operations may discharged onto the surrounding soil or dumped offsite in some other non-environmentally friendly manner.
- HAZARDS TO CHILDREN – During investigations police have found children or evidence of children having been present in Marijuana Grow Operations. There are significant long-term health risks for children who live in or visit grow operations. Additionally the end product marijuana supplied to children is viewed by some as a gateway drug to harder drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine.