Marijuana grow operations are becoming more common even in areas such as ours, this was made evident by the May 20th OPP raid on an Eadie Road property that resulted in the seizure of what was estimated to be a street value of $285,000.00 worth of marijuana plants. Marijuana grow ops are cropping up in all types of neighborhoods, not just in rural areas. The criminals who operate them are not fussy about where they set them up; rural or urban areas work equally well as long as they can produce their product it and not be noticed, that’s all that matters. Grow ops do however represent a significant risk to the neighbouring residents as well as emergency workers, not to mention the illegal drugs that end up on the streets as a result of their being able to operate. One of the biggest risks theses operations represent is the threat of fire, operators bypass the electrical meter to avoid being noticed by the electrical utility company. Grow ops, because of the number of electrical devices used, draw much more electricity than a normal home. So much that if they were to hook up without by-passing the meter, the consumption would immediately be noticed and there operation discovered. These operations use extremely powerful lights to help the plants grow, often lights that are powerful enough to be used to light sports fields, also air conditioners and fans to keep the rooms cooled are often wired so that they by-pass the breakers and end up drawing much more power than the circuits were designed to carry. It is estimated that a grow op is at least 20 times more likely to start a fire than a normal home. For emergency workers such as firefighters we have to take into consideration that these homes are also often rigged with booby-traps so entering even in the case of a fire could result in serious injuries or even death. According to the RCMP there are a number of signs that could indicate a home is being used for a grow op;
• Residents may only be in the home occasionally for short periods of time.
• People access the residence only through the garage.
• Unusual visitor behavior ranging from no visitors to frequent visitors for short periods.
• Windows covered with dark plastic or newspaper.
• Condensation forms on windows due to high humidity levels inside. This may also result in lack of snow on the roof in winter.
• Skunk-like odour of growing marijuana can occasionally be detected outside.
• Unusual garbage: little or no garbage or unusual items(e.g. pots and soil, fertilizer containers, wiring, PVC piping).
• Electrical equipment inside creates humming sounds.
• Hydro meter is often tampered with or bypassed.
• Grow operations may use other “props” to deflect suspicion. Some of these include: outdoor and/or indoor lights, radio and/or TV on for 24 hours, flyers left in mailbox or on the front steps, children's toys & bikes outside without children living at the residence, realty signs posted.
• A "Beware of Dog/Guard Dog" sign may be used to deter trespassing, protect against theft and avoid detection by police.
If you suspect a home of being used for a grow op, do NOT try to investigate yourself, immediately contact the OPP and inform them of your concerns.
Published in The Villager newspaper June 2, 2010