May 25 2012 by Chris Clements, Paisley Daily Express
COPS busted a dope-growing operation after a fire started on the top floor of a block of flats.
Firefighters rushed to a blaze on the top landing of flats in Sycamore Avenue, Johnstone, at around 10pm on Tuesday.
The flames were quickly extinguished but, when police made a routine visit to the three-storey block afterwards, they stumbled across a cannabis cultivation in one of the flats.
Officers then obtained a search warrant at around 5am on Wednesday and seized a number of cannabis plants.
A 24-year-old man who lives in the property has been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with the operation.
Experts from ScottishPower were also called to the scene after cops discovered that an electrical source had been tampered with.
The drugs swoop came just days after a similar operation took place elsewhere in the Johnstone Castle housing scheme.
Police went to a house in Elm Drive on Saturday after receiving reports of flooding there.
And, as officers checked the scene, they found a cannabis factory, which led to a couple who live at the property being detained.
A police spokesman said: “A 33-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman have been reported to the procurator fiscal in relation to drugs offences in Elm Drive.”
On the same day, officers also busted a third cannabis cultivation in Laighpark Way, Paisley.
A 22-year-old man has been reported in connection with that find.
All of the operations were carried out by the newly-formed Community Investigation Unit, which includes plain-clothes officers from CID, as well as uniform cops.
In recent months, the Express has reported on a number of incidents where cannabis farms have been found after fires were started by electrical equipment overloading.
Last month, a stash of cannabis plants was seized after a fire crew raced to tackle a blaze at a first-floor flat in Linwood.
And, in February, a 39-year-old man was arrested when police discovered 30 plants at his Lochwinnoch home following an electrical fire.
Crooks often illegally bypass electricity from the mains to feed lights and heaters which are used to help grow cannabis plants.
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “It is incredibly dangerous, and illegal, to tamper with an electricity meter.
“Not only can it cause serious injury, it also greatly increases the risk of fire.
“Anyone who tampers with an electricity meter is taking a huge risk with their personal safety, the safety of their property and, potentially, with neighbouring properties as well.
“We will continue to work closely with the police to identify dangerous and illegal connections.”
uk Police discover fresh cannabis cultivation after another fire
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