Five marijuana grow-ops found by city inspectors this year
City officials have uncovered five drug houses in the first six months of this year, continuing the downward trend of illegal marijuana grow-ops coming to the City of Richmond's attention.
The city's electrical and fire safety inspection team probed four houses and two commercial properties from January through June this year, finding grow-ops in nearly all of them, according to data obtained by The Richmond Review.
Last year, the team inspected 14 houses and four commercial properties, resulting in the discovery of 12 grow-ops.
But the numbers pale in comparison to the first year of the program. In 2007, inspectors were dispatched to 101 properties, finding grow-ops in 58. The drop, officials have suggested, is likely due to grow-ops locating elsewhere or finding alternative sources of power—including stealing it—to stay undetected.
Each year, the city's electrical and fire safety inspection team searches homes with higher-than-average electricity use—more than 93 kilowatts per day—based on data provided by B.C. Hydro, along with following up on tips and RCMP investigations. The team focuses on safety, not putting growers behind bars.
The Richmond RCMP, however, does do criminal investigations into grow-ops—busting 10 so far this year, and 20 in 2011, according to the force.
City electrical inspections
•2007: 101 inspections; 58 grow-ops
•2008: 52 inspections; 6 grow-ops*
•2009: 20 inspections; 11 grow-ops*
•2010: 36 inspections; 24 grow-ops
•2011: 28 inspections; 12 grow-ops
•2012: 6 inspections; 5 grow-ops
*program operated for only part of year