How to Spot a Drug House

Grow operations are found everywhere from upscale neighbourhoods to rural communities.

They often leave buildings and residences uninhabitable and rife with hazardous mold and structural damage. Grow ops also increase the danger of fire and electrocution, violence and other types of crime.

These properties can influence your insurance premium and resale value.

Marihuana is often a major revenue source for organized crime groups. On average, a mature marihuana plant will produce approximately 500 joints.

By targeting and shutting down these illegal operations, ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams) directly impacts the ability of organized crime groups to finance other criminal activities.

Tips for homeowners

Get to know your neighbours. The presence of one or more of the following does not necessarily indicate a grow operation, but they do typically share many of these features:

  • occupants of the home are rarely seen, distant or secretive;
  • windows are covered with black plastic, newspaper or heavy curtains;
  • condensation on windows, frost build up on eaves and vents during winter, lack of snow on roof;
  • sound of electrical generators or fans;
  • lights that are much brighter than normal home lighting;
  • “skunky” smell of growing marijuana;
  • unusual traffic at the home at odd times of the day or night;
  • unusual piles of garbage such as fertilizer containers, pots, and soil left beside the house;
  • garbage is never or rarely laid out for collection;
  • the residents are rarely seen taking groceries or other items such as furniture into the home;
  • the property has excessive security (cameras, guard dogs, “keep out” signs, high fences, etc); and
  • there is evidence of tampering to the electric metre (damaged or broken seals) or the ground around it.

Tips for landlords

  • obtain a credit history, photo identification, and check all references of potential tenants;
  • interview all prospective tenants or renters;
  • check your property regularly (a marihuana crop can take two to three months to grow); and
  • ensure you have a detailed rental agreement and that your renters are actually living in or using the premises.

Be on the lookout for signs of a grow operation in your neighbourhood and report any suspicious activity to police or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. Never investigate a marihuana grow operation on your own.

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