IT’S every property owner’s worst nightmare.
Just this week almost 100 kilograms of amphetamine-type substances, manufacturing equipment and $2.5 million in cash were found in eight search warrants executed across Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
A significant portion of this was found in homes in Queensland and Sydney, with one taking two days to complete because of the volume of drugs, equipment and chemicals at the house.
While the homes in question weren’t rentals, the majority of clandestine drug labs are found in residential areas according to the Australian Crime Commission Illicit Drug Data Report.
More than 757 residential drug labs were found around the country in 2012-13, which range from crude and makeshift to highly sophisticated operations.
“Regardless of their level of sophistication or size, clandestine laboratories pose significant risks to the community as a consequence of the corrosive and hazardous nature of the chemicals used,” the report states.
They can also rack up significant damages for property owners and cause financial ruin for the unfortunate landlord who happens to own the home.
Terri Scheer Insurance executive manager Carolyn Parrella said tenants involved in cultivating illegal drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamine and ecstasy go to great lengths to hide their activities. But there are some crucial signs.
Here are her top tips if you’re worried your home is being used as a drug lab:
• Conduct regular property inspections
Cannabis represented more than 62 per cent of the seizures, with amphetamines making up 24 per cent. Cocaine accounted for 2.5 per cent and other other drugs made up the remaining 10 per cent, according to the Australian Crime Commission report.
“It takes three months to cultivate a hydroponics crop so carrying out quarterly inspections will increase the chances of detecting any illegal activity as soon as possible,’’ Ms Parrella said.
• Look for signs that the property is being lived in
“Illegal drug manufacturers generally do not live at the properties they use to cultivate drugs, therefore the premises may appear under furnished or neglected.”
• Modifications to property
Check for potential tampering of the property. Pipes or hoses added. Look for holes in the ceiling. Also check the electricity meter hasn’t been tampered with.
• Look out for unusual items or activity
Most people don’t have glass flasks, beakers, rubber tubing, gas cylinders, chemical containers in their homes.
“If such items are present at the property and appear inconsistent with practical use, it may indicate the presence of a drug laboratory,’’ Mrs Parrella said.
• Windows constantly covered or sealed
These can be common signs the property is being used for drug manufacture.
• Check the water consumption
A dramatic spike in water consumption could signal drug manufacturing.
• Faded paint work
If intense lighting is used as part of a hydroponics set up it may visibly fade paintwork.
Mrs Parrella warned landlords if they saw these signs and were concerned properties were being used to produce drugs not to take matters into their own hands but to call the police.
Story Source: www.news.com.au