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Scarborough grow-op locations dismantled in 2010

The number of marijuana grow-op busts from 2009 to 2010 in Scarborough has increased by 52 per cent, police documents show. That same period has seen a 25-per cent increase in the entire city of Toronto.

Last year 248 grow-ops were found in Toronto, (93 in Scarborough), up from 199 in 2009 (61 in Scarborough), and 140 in 2008.

Police released a list of addresses under access-to-information laws.

The reason behind the dramatic rise is that police have increased the number of officers assigned to drug related issues in recent years, Constable Wendy Drummond said.

“It’s one of our service priorities and resources have been dedicated to eradicating and help reduce drug related crime,” Drummond said. “Because we have more officers, we’re able to do more work, and able to dismantle more operations.”

Most of the grow-ops in Scarborough are found north of Highway 401 with a cluster in Agincourt North and Malvern. Generally for Toronto, grow-ops are in areas of low income and low density.

The midtown area from Bloor Street north to Sheppard Avenue and Bathurst Street to just east of Bayview Avenue remains clear.

It’s Scarborough’s location that makes it one of Toronto’s major hotspots, Drummond explained. This area is convenient for grow-ops because it allows for more privacy than from homes in the downtown core. The population isn’t as dense, homes are more spread out, and streets are wider.

Other hotspots are in Northwestern Etobicoke, including the Jane and Finch area, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Weston and Mount Dennis.

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 grow-ops 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 condominium next to Scarborough Town Centre.

Buildings around the Scarborough Town Centre also proved to be popular for grow-ops. Two buildings on the same street, Brian Harrison Way, housed four grow-ops.

Telltale signs of a grow-op include: the windows are covered, there is condensation on the window panes, no snow is on the roof (due to the heat and humidity levels inside), excess wires go in and out of the house, and visitation patterns are unusual (ranging from absolutely no visitors to frequent visitors in a short period of time).

Drummond says a lot of police tips come from the public, and 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.”

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