Residential properties used for crime
Two cannabis factories which were operating in residential addresses in Wimbledon Park have been dismantled by police.
Acting on advice from members of the public about a property in Durnsford Road, they contacted the landlord of the home.
He very concerned to hear about the activities of his "tenants" and gave the police full access to this address and a second property he owned nearby.
Although no suspects were found at either location, police recovered a substantial amount of equipment including lighting, transformers, fans, ducting, fertiliser and pots, all specifically installed for the illegal production of cannabis plants.
Equipment recovered from the two properties filled a small lorry (pictured right) and is estimated to be worth more than £10,000.
Utility power company technicians also had to attend the operation, as the suspects had made unlawful alterations to the power supply for the industrial production of cannabis.
The landlord has now taken back full possession of the properties, but the "tenants" have not been seen since. They are now being sought by police for further questioning.
Sergeant Danny Smith said: "Thanks to local people coming forward and speaking to us."
If you suspect any properties in your area are being used for the cultivation of cannabis, police ask you to contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
Warning signals to look out for are, especially if you are a landlord, are:
Be wary of "apparently respectable" tenants who are prepared to pay six or twelve months rent up-front in cash.
Always check references: if they're non-existent or forged, walk away. Don't let the promise of all that cash distract you.
Be aware if you have a property that's going to be popular with drugs farmers: cul-de-sacs and other places with little passing traffic may be extra vulnerable.
Be wary of the tenant with a plausible excuse for why they don't want you to visit, ever. Tenants should be given 24 hours notice of any inspection. The person who wants you to come back at the end of the week might just need time to tidy up, but if your tenants will never let you arrange an inspection visit, that should ring alarm bells.
There's nothing wrong with a little drive-by check every so often. Are the curtains always drawn or the windows blacked out? Or are lights blazing at odd times of day? Cannabis production uses very bright lights, so either of these can be a danger sign.
If your 'tenants' are never at home, or only visiting at odd times of night, that too can be a danger sign.
Watch for bags of soil going into the property, and black sacks of 'harvest' coming out.
Intense activity following moving in, then very little thereafter.
There may be intense pungent smells emanating from or near the address.
Different occupants may visit at all times of day.
A reluctance to let landlords or agents check the property on a routine visit.
Police also advise landlords to check all rooms of any let property on a monthly basis rather than at three or six months - by then it might be too late. As well as being used for crime, the property may be substantially damaged or made unsafe, which may not be covererd by an insurance policy.
They stress if you have any concerns about thisd kind of criminal activity in your area, do no tapproach any suspect address yourself. Contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team via 0300 123 1212.
April 6, 2011