Q:

How do police detect criminals who grow weed in closets or other small spaces?

A:

Quick Answer

Police detect criminals who grow marijuana in closets and other confined spaces by using radio equipment to detect supplies that a grower needs in order to grow marijuana. To grow marijuana indoors, a grower commonly uses electronic ballasts that emit a radio frequency while they provide an artificial light source, and law enforcement detects this frequency using standard radio equipment.

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Full Answer

To grow marijuana indoors, the marijuana plants need exposure to lights that are strong enough to create photosynthesis. These high-powered lights often need electronic ballasts in order to function properly. Because the ballasts emit a radio frequency, law enforcement can intercept this frequency with the right equipment. Many ballasts interfere with radio operations of local government agencies, and ham radio operators complain that the ballasts create interference with their broadcasts. Officers hear a pop or a whistling sound when a radio comes near an indoor grow operation.

Another way that law enforcement detects indoor marijuana growing is by using thermal imaging. Law enforcement uses specialized equipment to fly over an area and detect whether an owner operates an unusual heat source in a building. A building might emit lights or smells that are further evidence of an illegal operation.

Additionally, law enforcement often finds indoor marijuana growing operations by word of mouth. A person who grows marijuana often tells his friends or customers that he has the indoor grow operation, and these people may tell law enforcement officials.

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