HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Breaking The Law To Expose Pot Grow Ops
Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2006
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Surrey Leader
Author: Dan Ferguson


Some Surrey residents are calling in bogus break-in complaints to get 
Mounties to raid suspected marijuana growing operations.

The tactic was disclosed by a senior drug investigator during a B.C. 
Supreme Court sentencing hearing for a husband-and-wife team busted 
during a 2003 crackdown by Surrey Mounties.

"There are an increasing number of incidents where frustrated 
citizens living near a grow operation report false break and enter 
offences (at) that residence in order to get police to act," said 
Surrey RCMP Cpl. John Karlovcec, testifying as an expert witness 
before Justice Bruce Josephson in New Westminster.

Karlovcec's remarks were summarized by Justice Josephson in his 
reasons for judgment.

Cpl. Karlovcec said marijuana growing operations in Surrey have 
increased "dramatically" since 1997, reaching "epidemic proportions 
in the Lower Mainland."

Marijuana-related home invasions or so-called grow rips where crooks 
stage their own raids on growers now average two reported cases a 
week, Karlovcec estimated.

He indicated the actual number of such home invasions is likely much 
higher, "given the fact that such offences are substantially 
under-reported for obvious reasons."

Karlovcec said police in Surrey receive 300 to 600 tips on grow ops a 
year, but only have the resources to act on the "easier ones," about 
one out of every four reported.

As a result, he said some people have taken to making fake break-in 
reports to get police to investigate suspected indoor grow ops when 
their initial complaints are not acted on.

Contacted for comment, Surrey RCMP spokesman Cpl. Roger Morrow did 
not dispute Karlovcec's assessment, but warned any residents who make 
false reports of criminal activity could face charges of criminal mischief.

As for the number of police available to raid grow ops, Morrow said 
the force would always like more resources, but that has to be 
balanced against the cost to taxpayers and the need to apply 
increased resources to other equally important criminal investigations.

As well, Morrow noted Surrey has pioneered a new approach that sees 
BC Hydro, firefighters and city crews join the fight against grow ops.

Under the Electrical and Fire Safety Inspection (ESFI) program, B.C. 
Hydro identifies homes using extraordinary amounts of power, and 
firefighters and city crews inspect the properties.

At the New West sentencing hearing, 51-year-old Kien Tam Nguyen and 
45-year-old Nga Thuy Nguyen were given 18 months of house arrest for 
running a grow operation out of a three-storey Surrey house worth $375,000.

The judge ordered the house forfeited for sale by law enforcement 
authorities to recover enforcement costs.

Police estimate the operation generated as much as $20,000 a month in revenue.
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