Grow Ops: Signs to look for!
Marihuana Grow Ops make our news every few weeks, usually when a large operation is ‘busted’ by police. Quite often they end up on the news when it happens to be a $500,000-house in an upscale neighborhood, but make no mistake about it, Grow Ops can happen anywhere.
With an estimated street value of approximately $1,000 per full-gown plant, and an average house being able to handle hundreds of plants per crop, it is easy to see that the price of the house has little impact on the bottom line of Grow Ops. In fact, organized crime focused their efforts on nicer, upscale neighborhoods primarily because residents used to think “THAT would never happen in OUR neighborhood!”.
The amount of damage caused by these Grow Ops is considerable, and can be categorized in 3 areas: First, there is the structural damage caused by altering the building itself. Culprits damage the electrical hookup, and often convert fireplaces to act as vents for the house. Foundation walls are often ripped open in an effort to steal hydro electricity, which must be used in huge quantities during the grow ops operation.
The second category of damage is that caused by the excessive moisture as a result of the operation. Moisture which, over time, gets into the walls, attic and every crack and crevice in the home, creating harmful mold. The third area of damage is that done to the property value of the home in question, and in fact to the entire neighborhood. Having a neighbors’ house on the news, with the accompanying story of ‘organized crime’ and ‘toxic mold’, can’t be good for your property values.
Nor are Grow Ops confined to houses: As an example, in March 2004, Toronto police discovered a huge grow-op in 8 apartments in 2 Toronto high-rise buildings. Some of the apartments had been structurally altered to accommodate the operation, which caused $150,000 in damage. 800 plants, some as high as 6 feet, were seized.
Winnipeg Police have long ago discovered effective ways to locate and fight this threat to our neighborhoods. But police require the help of watchful citizens, who call in and report possible Grow Ops in their areas.
So here are a couple of signs that neighbors should be on the lookout for:
1) Lack of Traffic or Odd-Hour Traffic
New people have moved in, but no one ever sees them. Not likely to have children living in houses used as Grow Ops, and any traffic in and out might be at late hours.
2) Excessive moisture on windows
Windows may be covered by tarps, foil or other material, and excessive water is witnessed on the inside of the pane
3) Tampered Electrical Meter
The ground around the Hydro Meter has been turned, or you’ve seen people working around that area.
4) No garbage or re-cycling left out
Since no one actually lives in the house, no garbage is being created.
5) Don’t rely on racial profiling
These folks have gotten smart. Don’t assume that the culprits who run Grow Ops will be from one ethnic group or another, or even that they are all male.
These are just some of the main things to look for. No one knows your neighborhood better than YOU. For a full list of warning signs, go the the Winnipeg Police Service online resource.
So if you notice any of these signs indicative of Grow Ops, call your local police or CrimeStoppers Tip Line, and help your neighbourhood out.