Cannabis factory discovered in village near Chippenham
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A cannabis factory containing approximately 200 plants has been discovered near Chippenham.
Officers were called to the address in North Wraxall by the electricity board who were carrying out work in the area shortly after 1pm on Thursday (31/3).
Officers remain at the site while the drugs production operation is dismantled and enquiries are carried out.
They are likely to remain on scene for a number of days.
Det Sgt Andy Morley said: “This is a very rural area and it would appear the address has not been resided in for some time, and instead is being used for the production of cannabis. We believe there are approximately 200 plants at the address, so a significant amount with the potential to do harm within our communities.
“We are grateful to the member of the public who alerted the address to police initially following concerns regarding the electricity set up at the location.
“The production and supply of any illegal drugs is a concern, but we want people to be aware that these types of cannabis factories have a number of issues which impact on the local community. There is often associated nuisance and anti-social behaviour, including the strong smell, and can sometimes be linked to exploitation or trafficking.
“We would encourage everyone to be aware of the signs of this type of illegal activity and to report any suspicions to the police.”
At this stage no arrests have been made but enquiries are ongoing.
If you have information which could assist officers, call 101 and quote crime reference number 54220033047.
How to spot the signs of cannabis production:
Windows permanently covered
Do you know of a house nearby where the curtains are drawn all day long? Are the windows blacked out with panelling or sheeting? Are there chinks of bright light showing from the edges of the window covering? Is there something they don’t want you to see? This could be a sign that there are bright artificial lights (required for cultivation) glowing inside, often coming on during the night on a timer. Young plants need around 12 hours of artificial light each day. Do the lights turn on and off at exactly the same times each day? Sometimes the room at the front of the house is left open and ‘set up’ to give the pretence of normality.
High levels of condensation
Are the windows always misted up? The condensation may well be due to inside having been turned into a makeshift greenhouse. For the best plant growth, cannabis needs an atmosphere similar to a greenhouse and this can cause a lot of condensation.
Sense of smell
A cannabis crop takes about three months to produce. The young plants have a faint smell, which may not reach the exterior of the house, but during the final four weeks the flowers/buds start to grow and the plants will smell intensely. It is a distinctive sweet, sickly aroma.
Lots of visitors
In some cases there will be a person living at the house to look after the grow. If they are ‘living-in’ permanently, they will barely be seen. If they are tending to more than one site they will come, tend to the plants and leave again, often in the early hours or at night. They won’t be sociable neighbours, they will want to keep a low profile. They will be worried about security, as this crop is valuable.
Do the visitors come and go frequently, often staying for short periods of time and at odd hours of the day? Are there new faces/vehicles turning up each time? Do they have large amounts of rubbish, including compost bags? Have you seen equipment being moved into the house (cannabis grows require significant amounts of ventilation and lighting)?
If you think there may be a cannabis farm, are you able to note visitors vehicle registration numbers without alerting them to your suspicions?
Rocketing electricity bills
The lights, dehumidifiers, hydroponic systems and heaters take a lot of electricity. Many farms have been found where drugs gangs have hacked into the electricity wires before the meter to that individual house and so bypassed having to pay for the electricity. This can increase fire hazard risks.
If you are a landlord who gets a copy of the bill, has it dropped or gone up suddenly? If so, your neighbourhood growers could have tapped into your supply and are charging you to power their drug operation. You should contact your supplier and the police immediately.
What happens when it snows?
Cannabis factories produce a lot of heat, which can cause tell-tale signs, especially in winter. When it snows, the roofs of cannabis farms can be obvious as the snow melts quickly, meaning it is probably the only house on the street without a snow-covered roof.
Similarly, do birds gather on the roof in cold weather, taking advantage of the heat that is being emitted?
Constant buzz of ventilation
If you can hear the constant noise of a fan, at all times of the day or night, chances are it could be acting as ventilation for the cannabis grow.
If you suspect there is a cannabis factory next door, you should phone us on 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress. You can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or go to crimestoppers-uk.org/campaigns-media/campaigns/report-cannabis-cultivation