A cannabis farm in Bitterne, in a fairly quiet residential street, is not what you would expect to find. But one Thursday evening in February, this is what happened, in what was our quiet little neighbourhood.
Things began around 9pm, when neighbours saw people breaking into the house next door. They shouted at them, and the robbers ran off with whatever they could, having threatened the neighbours, who immediately called the police, The robbers were wearing masks, and carrying what looked like machetes.
Another person, who is believed to have been guarding the house, jumped over a fence into the back garden of the property, and then proceeded to jump the fences of the adjoining properties to escape.
We received a call at this point from the neighbours, to check the back garden, and to lock the windows and doors. So I took the dog out back, he barked a bit, but we didn’t see anything unusual or anybody in the garden. However, the next day, the top of a bird bath against a fence had been knocked off it’s stand, so presumably someone used it to get over the fence from our garden into next door.
The BIG surprise however was when I went out front and joined other neighbours over by the house.The front garden was absolutely full of cannabis! It looked like largish pieces of lichen in the dark, but there was enough scattered in the garden to fill a large black bin bag! I have no idea of the value, but it must have been in the thousands at least.
Unfortunately with it being dark the video below isn’t that great, but all the lighter coloured lumps on the ground that look like lichen, are actually large chunks of cannabis! This kind of gives you an impression of the amount that was just left in the front garden as the raiders ran off.
Walking to the side of the house, half of the front door had been completely broken off, it was lying at the side of the house. Even more large lumps of cannabis were all along the side of the house as well.
The stairs were absolutely covered in cannabis, so much so that it would have been really dangerous to walk up or down them.
The people who broke into the house were obviously aware that the goods had been harvested but it doesn’t look like they were prepared for neighbours to see them and to intervene.
It was extremely fortunate that our neighbours saw what was happening, and scared the raiders away.
It’s pretty obvious that they weren’t properly prepared, given the path of destruction that they left behind them as they ran off.
He checked out the property, and allowed us to peek inside the hallway.
This is the front room, which had been used for growing cannabis plants.
The containers are all special fertiliser to encourage plant growth – amazingly enough, this is available on Amazon!
The front room was the same, as was the upstairs, and as we found out the following day, even the attic had been adapted to grow cannabis plants.
Furthermore, the kitchen, which the landlord had only refitted a year ago, had been completely ripped out, and was also being used to grow the plants.
Having been good neighbours, and helped the police to clean up the “evidence” outside the house, two more officers then arrived, and we left them to their business.
The following day, more details unfolded, as we spoke again to the neighbours and the police.
It seems that at any one time there are around six properties in the Southampton area that are being used as cannabis farms. The police weren’t interested in taking statements from the neighbours. This is despite those who were present when the attack on the property began, having descriptions of the raiders, . The police were however at least interested in a mobile phone that was found in an a back garden. It must have been dropped as one of the raiders tried to escape.
The police, despite having been in the property the whole night, seem to have only cleaned up the mess inside, boarded up the front door, and left. As we understand it, the tops had been cut off the cannabis plants but these were left in the property, as were the heat lamps.
Well, as a result, the property was broken into again, multiple times, and on Monday evening everything kicked off, as neighbours were threatened and intimidated by teenagers with knives, who were trying to break into the house to retrieve the contents.
One of the neighbours who witnessed this new attempt to gain entry to the property called the police, and was left on hold in a queue for at least 20 minutes due to the volume of calls. I think you will agree that this is a ridiculous situation.
The landlord did a marginally better job of barricading the doorway, but overnight the house was broken into again. Now at least there is a new door in place, but that too will most likely not last, as long as there is valuable equipment in the house, not to mention hundreds of cannabis plants.
Meanwhile, the smell took days to disappear from the area. The cannabis smell hung heavy everywhere on Thursday evening, and Friday morning our front porch reeked of it, including our jackets and coats. The smell took a good 3 days to clear.
Our next door neighbours haven’t fared as well. They couldn’t smell anything before the house was broken into, because of the plastic sheeting that was in place, but now that has been removed, their house is heavy with the strong inescapable smell of cannabis.
What we are all wondering now is, are the police just so understaffed that they can’t even justify taking evidence when something like this happens?
Are they just doing what they need to in order to close these cannabis farms down, without any attempt to identify those responsible, or is the problem so large that they are now powerless to do anything about it?
If so, this is really disturbing, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country if the police are unable to tackle a situation like this when it’s happening on an almost daily basis.
As neighbours, should we be more vigilant and report suspicious activity to the police? Will that in fact do any good, or are we likely to report something which isn’t in fact criminal activity and which will likely leave neighbours upset as a result.
This certainly makes me think about fitting surveillance cameras to the property, so that should anything similar happen in the future, there would be photographic evidence which might be of use to the police.
Fortunately the property has now been cleared, and the problem no longer exists, at least in our street. Who knows where the next cannabis farm will be found.