Locksmith and Letting Agent Discover £1M Drug Farm
Usually, when you picture what a locksmith’s day-to-day jobs entail, you may picture a few houses, a garage and an office. What nobody expects to find when they turn up to change the locks is a cannabis farm. This is exactly what happened to a locksmith and letting agent in Teesside. In this blog, we take a look at the value of vacant property security measures.
Reports stated that on August 30, a letting agent and locksmith visited the vacant unit at the Riverside Park Industrial Estate in Middlesbrough to change locks and evict non-paying tenants.
When they gained access, they found what was described as “an industrial scale cannabis farm”. Five men fled the unit but two of them were caught nearby.
The expected worth of the yield was valued at up to £1,000,000.
The Safety of the Locksmith
While this must have been an unusual and shocking find, it is not uncommon for locksmiths to have to gain entry for property evictions and vacant property security measurements. Yes, the men ran this time, but the safety of both innocent bystanders could have been different if the men had have tried to fight them off.
Cases are becoming more common of people contacting locksmiths to get them entry to empty properties, claiming they have locked their keys and ID inside so they can’t verify they live there. Once they have trespassed, they can squat, or as is the case in this news story, grow drugs to sell on.
This responsibility can fall back onto a locksmith if they are fooled into letting a squatter or trespasser into an empty property for misuse, which often involves taking or making illegal drugs.
What We Can Do: Vacant Property Security Measures
Locksmiths work closely with landlords and letting agents, particularly when changing locks at the end of a tenancy.
Landlords or letting agents, whoever manages the rental of properties, should install some kind of surveillance to cover vacant property security management while there is a period of time between tenants moving in and out. The same goes for industrial units.
While there are likely many, perhaps hundreds, of units under the realm of a particular letting agency or landlord, measures should be taken to ensure that properties are protected to stop instances like the cannabis farm occurring.
Locksmiths should be vigilant with checking people’s ID and try to create processes to follow in circumstances where something doesn’t seem quite right. It may be best to contact the police if they feel something is very wrong, such as with this vacant property security issue.
Use a Professional Locksmith
In the frustrating instance of having to evict squatters and trespassers from commercial or residential property, it pays to use a professional locksmith. Quiet and quick entry is key; the use of the correct tools will make the procedure slicker.
Depending on the circumstances and type of property, the police may need to be present. Discuss with the locksmith or landlord.
The additional time and financial costs of evicting squatters, drug abusers or drug farmers can escalate hugely. We urge landlords to take time to ensure their premises are as secure as can be, implementing additional vacant property security measures, to save time and costs in the long run.
As soon as the eviction and clearance are complete, it is paramount to get the locks changed fast so that it doesn’t happen again. Consider using CCTV and alarms to keep intruders at bay in the future.