Pubdate: Thu, 23 Feb 2006
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The London Free Press
Author: Randy Richmond
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


A London couple is mystified after city police left behind what 
appeared to be a marijuana grow operation in a house that had been 
rented by a former OPP officer.

A bizarre incident recently left them with the mess of lights, pumps, 
planting beds -- and a few tiny pieces of marijuana buds -- in their 
basement and OPP uniforms in their closet.

It also left them with a distrust of police.

But London police said there was nothing they could do without plants 
actually growing in the basement.

"There is probably no doubt it was used for a grow-op previously," 
said Det. Supt. Rick Gillespie.

But the equipment itself is not illegal, he said.

"At the end of the day, there is no offence."

Police will tuck the information away, he added. "It is good 
information. We are in a position to follow it up."

The couple asked that their real names not be used. "Joe" and "Sue" 
moved into a rented house in London Feb. 1. When they arrived, they 
found the previous tenants, an older man and a younger man, still 
moving material out.

"I was mad," Joe said. He stormed downstairs, where he noticed a 
padlocked door.

"I just kicked the door off."

Behind the door was a grow operation, he said.

With him was a Bell Expressvu installer, who must have called his 
supervisor, Joe said, because police arrived within minutes.

With a record of his own, Joe was considered a suspect. But when the 
couple showed police their lease, with a Feb. 1 date, police realized 
they weren't involved.

"They said they were going to confiscate everything and started 
ripping everything apart," Sue said.

Police then ran a check on a car parked in the driveway, which 
belonged to the previous tenant, Sue said. All of a sudden, their 
attitudes changed.

The officers told the couple there was nothing more they could do and 
they left.

Joe took a Free Press reporter and photographer through the basement 
room. There are several signs it was a grow operation:

- - Silver Mylar strips were strewn on the floor, with some pieces 
still on the walls.

- - Two beds of clay rocks for the plants.

- - Huge, 1,000-watt light bulbs.

- - Fluorescent lights.

- - Fans in the walls to clear the air.

- - A large air filter with tubing to the outside wall.

- - A submersible pump to circulate water to the clay rocks.

- - Organa-Guano fertilizer.

- - Small buds and bits of marijuana.

Searching through piles of junk in a closet, Sue made another 
discovery-- two blue shirts with the official OPP patch on the shoulder.

A neighbour told them one of the two tenants was an OPP officer.

That's when she got suspicious about police actions.

OPP spokesperson Const. Mark Foster confirmed a man with the same 
name as the younger tenant had been a constable in the Western 
Region, but left the force two years ago.

Officers are responsible for disposing of uniforms, Foster said.

It's not illegal to possess uniforms, though police would rather 
civilians didn't, said London police Const. Amanda Pfeffer.

Landlady Alice Kozumplik confirmed an elderly man rented the house 
and his nephew showed up a few months ago.

The pair left because they could no longer afford the rent, she said.

Neither man could be reached for comment.

Gillespie confirmed one officer on the scene recognized the name of 
the younger tenant as being the same as a former OPP officer.

Learning a former OPP officer might have lived there had nothing to 
do with the decision to leave the house or leave behind the gear, 
which has no use as evidence, Gillespie said.

"We are not in a position to clean the basement for them."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom