Your next-door neighbors may look like normal, law-abiding citizens, but you never really know what they're hiding beneath their homes -- like a large-scale marijuana grow operation, perhaps?
One such operation was uncovered in the idyllic town of Bainbridge, Ga., at the home of contractor Johnny Davis (pictured below) and his daughter, Audrey Stanley. Located nearly 15 feet below the ground was a full-scale marijuana grow house, concealed by a hidden entrance inside a nondescript shed.
With a flip of a switch, a custom-made hydraulic table inside the shed moved aside to reveal stairs which lead down to the underground grow house.
"I'm sort of mechanically inclined myself, and I thought it was pretty ingenious they way they did it," Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin told WTXL.
Over 160 marijuana plants were found in the grow house, with the potential to produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits. Davis is said to to have been growing the illicit plants for about a decade.
Unfortunately, the incident doesn't stand alone. Also this year, firefighters in California's Riverside County discovered a massive pot-grow operation in a burning, vacant home in Reche Canyon. When the blaze was put out, authorities discovered that nearly three-quarters of the 4,000-square-foot home's first floor was being used to grow pot. At that point, most of the marijuana had already been destroyed by the flames.
Then there was the landlord in the sleepy town of Workingham, near London, whose tenants used his house and garage to grow over 200 marijuana plants, worth thousands of dollars. After the bust, the "420-friendly" renters left the landlord with over $15,000 worth of damages to the home -- including removed floorboards, holes in the roof, and dismantled fixtures (see right).
Such examples are only a small handful of what some might say is a "budding trend" of home pot-growing operations -- now more than ever, apparently. The vast inventory of foreclosures and otherwise vacant homes in states hit hard by the housing crisis have proven to be fertile ground for large-scale marijuana farms and "pot gardens."
In one raid in 2011, police in Las Vegas uncovered 61 plants in a foreclosed four-bedroom home. In another nearby home, they confiscated 878 plants worth approximately $2.6 million. In Nevada alone -- which suffered greatly from a run-up in speculative buying during the housing bubble -- there were 153 recorded grow operations and 13,000 plants found.
So what are some telltale signs that your neighbors are running a large-scale marijuana operation right under your nose? Police officer Craig Woolnough says to watch out for strong smells, regular buzzing noises (which could indicate the presence of fans or heaters), windows that are warm to the touch and people coming and going at all hours. Also, suspicious landlords should monitor electricity usage as "drug cultivation requires high levels of power." Turns out growing the green isn't so green after all.