Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grow ops

I've been out of town (again) for a spell, so this is the first in a series of blog posts summarizing some recent events on a growth theme, the first one being as follows:

Holy crap, did you read this story in Chron today about high-potency marijuana grow ops in high-potency suburban real estate?!  Like, a lot of suburban real estate?  Forty-one different high-end homes spread among multiple subdivisions. 
That ain't no shanty shack of the type that we usually see featured in these kinds of busts.
The street identified by Chron is located in a subdivision called The Preserve, which HAR lists as having a median sales price of about $270,000.  And yes, those are grow lights piled on the front lawn.
Story header screengrab courtesy of Houston Chronicle.
Here's the quote sequence that blew my mind:

They came to the home every morning, one of them driving a white Mercedes coupe and the other a SUV. Fulcher said they never stayed at the house for more than an hour, and always drove their cars into the garage and closed the garage door before getting out of the car.

"I had my suspicions because when they moved in they frosted out all the windows even though they already had blinds," Fulcher said. "I thought that was weird."

Are you freakin' kidding me?!  They came to their rent house each morning, never stayed more than an hour, and nobody did anything??  This was going on, and none of the high-dollar neighbors raised a question about it??

Please, if anybody sees anything remotely resembling this kind of behavior pattern in Centerpointe, email me, or tell LCPD, or tell one of the POA Board members.  Tell someone.   There have been times in Centerpointe where I've encountered residents who will come to me with strange stories (none as serious as illicit drug operations), but they don't want to get personally involved, or they are afraid that someone will think they're being paranoid if they're mistaken about what they're seeing.  No problem - that's what the rest of us nosy buggers are good for.  Tell us, and we will be glad to figure out whether there's an actual bad situation developing or if it's just a misunderstanding. 

And figuring out stuff like that is not nearly as difficult as you might first imagine.  There's an incredible amount of information readily available on the internet.  That house pictured in the Chron story above?  All one would need to get a good start on investigating of what might have transpired at such a residence is the following:
  1. Googlemaps
  2. The Harris County Appraisal District website
  3. Facebook
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Texas vital statistics
  6. A handful of additional websites depending on what those first five revealed.
Seriously, this stuff is not rocket science.  The internet has laid most of us bare for the world to see.

And you don't want a drug operation to turn up anywhere in your neighborhood.  Not only is there the potential for criminal violence and the physical dangers described in the Chron article (potential for electrical fires and explosions), there is the perception issue: what kind of a subdivision hosts this stuff?  What does the resulting association do to property values?

If suspicious residents happen to be cooking crank instead of growing grass, add the potential for exposures to toxic chemicals to the list of woes.  Meth lab homes are sometimes so contaminated with toxins that they have to be torn down

Anyway, enough said.  It's not my intention to raise unnecessary alarm - just to once again encourage everyone to do what they should be doing anyway:  talk to people.  Communicate with your neighbors.  Find out what's going on around you. 

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