One of Cheshire’s biggest crime problems in recent years is the production of cannabis. The number of cannabis farms being uncovered has leapt sharply across the UK, and Cheshire has also seen an increase.
A lot of this is down to the increasing trend by organised crime groups to split up their operations and have them running across a wide range of smaller properties, rather than one big industrial complex. By doing this it means that they aren’t putting “all their eggs in one basket” and if one production site is discovered, the others can go on working.
In Cheshire, cannabis farms have been discovered in large towns such as Warrington, Macclesfield and Northwich but also in rural areas like Tarvin indicating the problem is not confined to the major cities. You may not realise it but the farms themselves pose a serious threat to your health.
They require the large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides being stored and are often connected illegally to the electricity supply, posing huge fire risks.
What to look for in your neighbourhood
You can help keep the sale of cannabis off the streets by keeping an eye out for the following clues:
- A pungent and sweet smell on the street with no obvious source
- Unusual levels of heat coming from a property and/or no frost or snow on the property when every house around it does
- Unusual noises at odd times such as fans going constantly, or large items like sacks or drums being dragged around
- Windows that are blacked out by heavy curtains or bin bags from the inside
- Occupants who are rarely seen or seen at odd times
- The property seems unlived in or the residents are active at odd times of the day
- Bulky items being taken into the property, such as barrels and drums
- The creation of new air vents or the use of industrial air vents in a domestic property.
Advice for landlords
If your property is being used as a farm you may find that no-one answers the door when you visit and that the locks have been changed without you knowing.
Most commonly a rented property of a good size with several rooms with an absentee landlord is chosen, so be aware of people who ask how often you will visit the property when renting one of your homes.
Cash may be used in transactions rather than setting up direct debits. Areas with a mixture of residential and light industrial buildings are commonly used, but cannabis farms have also been found in rural locations.
Be suspicious if only offered cash and make regular checks of the property once leased.
If your property is found to be have been used as a cannabis farm, you can expect to find large scale electrical problems, entire rooms filled with compost, damp conditions and fire damage. The costs to make properties habitable again are considerable so be aware of who is renting your properties.