The number of marijuana grow-op busts in 2009–2010 in Scarborough increased by 52 per cent over the previous year, police documents show.
Last year, 93 grow-ops were found in Scarborough, up from 61.
That same period has seen a 25-per cent increase across Toronto: 248 grow-ops were found in Toronto, up from 199 in 2009 and 140 in 2008.
More police officers have been assigned to deal with drug-related issues in recent years, Const. Wendy Drummond said, which accounts for the dramatic rise in the number of busts.
“It’s one of our service priorities,” Drummond said. “Resources have been dedicated to eradicating and help reduce drug-related crime.
“Because we have more officers, we’re able to do more work and [are] able to dismantle more operations.”
Police released a list of grow-op addresses under access-to-information laws.
Most of the grow-ops in Scarborough are found north of Hwy. 401 with a cluster in Agincourt North and Malvern. Across Toronto, grow-ops are generally located in areas of low income and low density.
It’s Scarborough’s location that makes it one of Toronto’s major grow-op hot spots, Drummond explained. The suburban makeup of the area is convenient because it allows for greater privacy than some other parts of the city. The population isn’t as dense, homes are more spread out and streets are wider.
Northwestern Etobicoke, Jane-Finch, the area around Black Creek Pioneer Village, Weston and Mount Dennis are other grow-op hot spots.
The majority of grow-ops are on the outskirts of the city where they won’t draw as much attention, Drummond said.
Nearly all of the illegal operations were found in residential homes and apartments, while a couple were found outdoors. Last November, a $2.6-million grow-op was found in the boiler room of a condo tower next to Scarborough Town Centre.
The area around Scarborough Town Centre proved to be popular for grow-ops: two buildings on the same street, Brian Harrison Way, housed four of them.
Telltale signs of a grow-op include: covered windows; condensation on the window panes; no snow on the roof due to the heat and humidity inside; excess wires running to and from the house; and unusual patterns of people coming and going, which can swing from absolutely no visitors to frequent visitors in a short period of time.
Police receive a lot of tips about potential grow-ops from the public, Drummond said. She added anyone suspecting a grow-op should contact police.
“It’s one way in which the community can assist us,” Drummond said. “We can’t be everywhere all the time and it’s with the public that we’re able to combat a lot of this crime.”[iframe: src=”http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=206252193330821729259.0004a0cf9242c2b41f4ab&ll=43.788941,-79.227219&spn=0.198274,0.378342&z=11&output=embed” width=”550″ height=”400″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″]