Dyfed-Powys Police is urging landlords and members of the public to be on the lookout for people using premises for illegal activity, following events which lead them to unexpectedly to stumple upon a cannabis factory.
Stunned officers were dealing with a complaint about the theft of clothes from charity bags in Milford Haven on Friday.
Enquiries at various flats nearby to the complaint led to police knocking at one particular door. It was opened quietly by an East-Asian looking man. Police were suprised to see that he was standing in a ‘forest’ of cannabis plants, estimated to be worth over £350,000
A police spokesman said “a male – who is not local to the area – was arrested for the offences of the cultivation and production of cannabis in Milford Haven this week.”
The property, beleived to be close to The Torch Theatre, had been let by R Miles Scurlock Estate Agents in Milford Haven.
The Herald contacted a spokesman from the company by telephone, who said: “A man who told us he was Chinese rented a flat from us a few months back. We acted as agents for the owner. He paid his deposit and rent upfront in cash with no problems at all. He told us that he was staying in the area with a view to opening a Chinese restaurant or takeaway.”
“He was very quiet and kept himself to himself. It turns out now that he was not Chinese at all.”
The arrest followed the discovery of another property in Haverfordwest last week where a similar set up was discovered. This time there was no one at the premises to arrest.
The total amount of cannabis seized in the two raids is estimated to be worth over £1million.
The police told The Herald: “At this stage we are not considering the offences to be linked”
To help combat this and in order to warn and inform the public, police are asking communities to be vigilant with suspect properties:
Mostly terraced – one out of five detached – also industrial units
Limited signs of daily activity
Curtains/ blinds closed
Detective Sergeant Mark Richards said: “When criminals operate out of properties the whole community suffers but it can also result in personal loss for a landlord. Tenants using the property illegally will often reduce the property value, cause damage and not pay rent.
“We are urging landlords and neighbours to be aware of signs which could indicate criminal activity and if they are at all suspicious to tell us and we can help them address the issues.”
Properties used in this type of criminal activity can also have:
Strong smell of chemicals and empty containers left outside
Residents bringing unusual equipment such as sophisticated lighting
Extreme property fortification.
DS Mark Richards added: “Although this is not a significant issue for Dyfed-Powys Police and there are no specific community concerns, we still want to highlight a variety of the signs – which can be present at any one time – as they relate to different types of drug production.
“Other signs are tenants paying rent in advance in cash, tenants preventing landlords from visiting the premises and willingness for tenants to pay for expensive exterior fortifications.”
However, the construction of these ‘factories’ often involves interference with the properties electrical installation, which carries an obvious fire risk and risk of electrocution to future tenants, or unaware visitors. Police are urging members of the public to be aware of the risk and not to investigate themselves – anyone wanting more advice or who has any information can contact their local police station via 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111