Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jun 2006
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Langley Times
Author: Monique Tamminga
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Langley still has its fair share of marijuana grow ops, with the local
drug section carting away 1,000 plants from two homes on Tuesday, one
in a new Willoughby subdivision.

A fire that started in a B.C. Hydro meter box attached to a house
uncovered a marijuana grow operation. The neighbourhood
is part of a new development of homes where several grow ops
have been busted, said police.

Langley Mounties are concerned when electricity is stolen, as it was
in this case, because fires can spread from the hydro meter to
neighbouring houses.

"When houses are that close together, the flames could easily spread
to the next house," said Langley RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Diane Blain.

"Hydro bypassing is very dangerous."

The resident of the home was alerted by a passerby that a fire had
started on the outside of the house. Witnesses then saw the man grab a
woman from the house and the two fled in a van, said police.

Around 9:30 p.m Township fire crews put out the blaze. About 400 pot
plants were discovered in the the new home. The drug section executed
a warrant and seized the plants.

"Often, they rig up the meter so badly, you never know what's going to
happen. There have been several [grow ops] in this area of brand new
homes," Blain said.

Township assistant fire chief Dave Palmer said they attend these types
of fires from time to time. Hydro meters are built to code and can
handle the amount of electricity expected in a home, he said.

"You are safe if you leave it alone, but any modifications done to
these meters creates a hazard," said Palmer.

"The closer the homes are together, the greater the exposure hazard.
That's why people should report suspicious activities of neighbours to
police for the safety of their own families."

Earlier on Tuesday, Langley RCMP's drug section executed a warrant in
a large home in Aldergrove.

A 32-year-old Langley man was arrested on the scene and more than 500
plants seized from the basement.

In that case, it was concerns from neighbours that helped bust the
grow op, said police. Their diligence led to a police investigation
which led to a warrant, said Blain.

The suspect in that case was released on a promise to appear. He is
facing charges of production of marijuana and theft of hydro.

The investigation of the Willoughby grow op is on going. No arrests
have been made yet.

"Grow ops are a menace and pose major safety issues for neighbours. If
you see anything suspicious call us," said Blain.

Know the signs

There are several signs to indicate a home may conceal a grow op:

- - bars on the windows appear when new residents move in;

- - fan noise coming from inside;

- - hydro meter working at a high rate of speed, appearing damaged or
not working at all;

- - when occupants first 'move in,' you hear lots of construction noise
- -- especially concerning in a brand new home;

- - newspapers accumulate on the front step;

- - cube vans or vans back up into the garage, stay a while and leave;

- - addition of a new hydro line; and

- - empty fertilizer or pot soil bags or containers discarded on garbage
day, yet no outside landscaping was done.
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