Up to 1,000 plants were said to be growing at a four-bedroom home converted into a cannabis farm. Police discovered the huge crop after responding to reports of an attemped burglary in Beech Hall Crescent, Highams Park on April 2. No-one was home at the time police found the cannabis and no arrests have been made.
The Guardian was today granted access inside the semi-detached home where growers used specialised equipment including filters and dozens of flourescent lights to grow the cannabis.
The property was being rented out by letting agent Austin Chambers & Co for two years and was last inspected in December. Davood Ardalani, who is employed to carry out maintanence for the company has spent the last two days clearing out the family-sized semi-detached home. Up to 1,000 plants pots, bags full of plant stems and dozens of aluminium ducting, used for ventilation can be seen in the front garden.
"Where I arrived on Monday the house was completely dark, you couldn't see anything. There were plant pots everywhere, in every single room," he said. "Filters were hanging from ceilings and hooks where the lights were hanging from were everywhere.
"It was a sophisticated operation that must have been going on for over a year. The growers had put timers on the lights so they couldn't get picked up by infra-red. There was one single bed and a TV in the kitchen area, all of the furniture had been removed to maximise space, I'm guessing. The bay window section was completely sealed and all of the curtains had been stapled to the wall."
Mr Ardalani also discovered hundreds of stems from plants buried underneath the floor in the loft, which he suggested were from previous grows and had been put there instead of outside in a general bin. He expects it will take two weeks before the family home is up to standard and can be rented out again. A neighbour, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Guardian residents often smelt cannabis. She said: "I didn't spot anything suspicious at all. We were all surprised when it was discovered as this is a friendly, family road.
"Neighbours smelt cannabis now and then but thought it was kids smoking in the alleyway. The lights were never on at strange times and would turn off of an evening."
Austin Chambers & Co letting manager Ali Khani, told the Guardian: The tenancy was on-going for two years.
"Originally a family came to us and all their documentation checked out fine with Home Let so we moved the family in. We went in last October and everything was fine. The rent was always paid on time so it was a bit of a shock to hear about the incident. We've been trying to contact the tenant but they appear to have gone AWOL and cannot be traced at all."
By Natalie Glanvill - The Guardian/April 23, 2015