HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Thieves Bring Terror In The Night
Pubdate: Sat, 25 Sep 2004
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Chad Skelton
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


When Eric Chow heard something banging against his front door around
2:30 a.m. Aug. 22, he thought at first it was just the wind.

Chow, 22, was watching TV in the upstairs den at the time, the only
member of his family still awake.

He expected the noise to pass, but then he heard a loud crack, and
several people yelling.

As he looked downstairs, he saw two masked men, each holding what
looked like an automatic rifle, storming into his house.

One of the masked men spotted Chow and began running upstairs in his

Chow raced into the upstairs bathroom, closed the door behind him and
braced himself against it.

"I thought they were going to shoot me," recalled Chow. "I put my back
to the door so he couldn't come in."

As one of the assailants pushed against the bathroom door trying to
get in, the other man began searching around the main floor.

Chow's mother, wondering what the noise was, came out of her bedroom
- -- only to be confronted by an armed man ransacking her house.

Chow's father, still in bed, asked her what was going on.

"My mother said, 'Don't come out' in Chinese," Chow said.

Chow said the man downstairs began yelling at his mother.

"He said: 'Get down on your chest' " recalls Chow.

The man began yelling at his terrified mother, asking her where the
marijuana was.

"My mom said, 'There's no marijuana here,' " said Chow.

After the two men had done a bit more searching, they realized there
was no marijuana to be found.

And that's when one of the two men apologized.

"He said, 'We were looking for drugs. Sorry, we had the wrong house,'"
recalls Chow. "I was scared. But I was also angry. I wanted to take
them on. But my mom said, 'Don't, they'll shoot you.' "

Police say "grow-rips" -- violent home invasions intended to steal
plants from marijuana growing operations -- are an expanding problem
in the Lower Mainland.

And many innocent families, like the Chows, have become victims of
thieves who target the wrong address.

In the past two years, more than half a dozen innocent families in the
Lower Mainland have been the victims of mistaken grow rips.

Many have had guns pointed at them, or been pepper-sprayed in the
face, by violent thieves looking for marijuana the victims don't have.

Last January, a group of three masked men broke into a house in Surrey
and pepper-sprayed a 65-year-old man before realizing they had the
wrong address.

And in March, a man and his son in Surrey were tied up by two men with
machetes looking for marijuana at the wrong house.

Chow said his immigrant parents are still shaken by the home invasion
and are worried they could be victimized again.

"My mom said if they do this again, we're going to move far away --
back to Hong Kong or something," he said.
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