Police in the Craven area are asking residents to be alert to the signs of cannabis production in their neighbourhood after officers have dealt with seven cannabis grows in the Skipton area over the past year.
Officers are also concerned about the dangers posed by the illegal re-routing of electricity supplies, which is a common occurrence during cannabis cultivation.
In one incident last year, police discovered 94 cannabis plants after being alerted by the fire service who were called to a fire at a house in Skipton which was caused by the electricity supply being tampered with.
In another incident, officers found the remains of a commercial cannabis grow at a property near Settle. Again the electricity supply had been tampered with and posed a potentially dangerous situation for residents in neighbouring properties. Three people have been charged in connection with this incident.
In March 2016, 33 cannabis plants were recovered from a commercial premises in Hellifield and again, signs that the electricity had been interfered with were present. A woman has been arrested in connection with the discovery and remains on police bail while enquiries continue.
Sergeant Mark Hill of Skipton police, said: “Nearly all of the premises used to cultivate the drug have had the electricity supply tampered with in some shape or form. This is a potentially dangerous situation for anyone living in the same building or an adjoining premises. The supply will have probably been interfered with by an amateur and the combination of amateur electrical work and lots of water being used to cultivate the plants is clearly very dangerous.
“The total number of grows detected would probably have yielded thousands of pounds in profit for the criminals behind them, without any thought for the potential consequences both to the damaged property or the danger they are putting neighbouring properties in.
“I urge members of the public to be alert to the signs of cannabis cultivation in their neighbourhood and report any suspicions they have to the police. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers. You may also be able to claim a reward from Crimestoppers if your information leads directly to the arrest and charge of suspects.”
The signs to look out for include:
§ A strong and sickly sweet smell
§ Equipment being taken into a house. For example, lighting and ventilation equipment.
§ Constantly covered or blocked-off windows. Cannabis factories often have constantly closed curtains, black-out blinds or foil coverings.
§ Unsociable coming and going at all hours or neighbours you never see.
§ Strong and constant lighting day and night.
§ High levels of heat and condensation. Cannabis factories often give off heat and the windows stay misted up.
§ Constant buzz of ventilation. Listen out for a whirring sound as the growers try to create an ideal climate for the plants to grow.
§ Lots of power cables. Gangs dig underground to lay cables that hook up to things like lamp posts so they don’t have to pay for the enormous amounts of electricity they use. They can easily bypass a £20,000 utility bill.
§ If you are a landlord or letting agent, be aware of potential tenants who pay a large amount of rent in advance and in cash, go out of their way to prevent you visiting the premises, offer to improve exterior fortifications.
To report any suspicions you have, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101. Or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Other incidents the police have dealt with include 100 cannabis plants that were found in a rented accommodation in Ingleton in November last year, enquiries remain ongoing.
In December, a small cannabis grow was discovered in a cupboard in a Skipton flat. A 23-year-old man was charged with producing cannabis.
In January 2016, 170 cannabis plants were found in a rented property in the Glusburn area. A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with this incident and remains on police bail while the investigation continues.
Also in March, 13 cannabis plants were recovered from a house in Skipton, a 39-year-old man has been arrested and released on police bail while enquiries continue.