Real estate agents visiting a home in West Covina stumbled across a large indoor marijuana grow April 26, police said.
The agents dropped by the house on Felicia Street at 1:30 p.m. and found the garden inside, said West Covina Police Lt. Dennis Patton. Officers seized about 700 plants, which they valued at $1.5 million, Patton said.
“This home is apparently up for sale,” he said.
The real estate agents called police and alerted them to the find. Officers obtained a search warrant and raided the home. Patton said they found “an exceptionally large marijuana grow,” with extensive equipment for lighting and irrigation.
It wasn’t initially clear who was behind the grow, and no arrests were made at the time of the raid. Police believe the home’s owner may be an absentee landlord, unaware it was being used to cultivate weed.
Grows have become something of a problem for the state’s real estate industry in recent years. Things got especially bad after the housing crash of 2008, when the market was flooded with empty homes no one wanted to buy.
Weed cultivators set up shop in some of these houses, stole electricity, and caused problems that could haunt homeowners for years down the line.
Whether these homes are rented by growers or used on the sly, they pose substantial risks to neighbors and homeowners. Cultivators typically jury-rig electrical systems to bypass meters so they won’t have to pay for the extra juice (or get caught by the police), and that creates the risk of fire.
Grow house operations can also leave mold and other pests to linger long after new owners move in.
A neighbor of the house in West Covina said she frequently saw the interior lights on in the home in the middle of the night. But she didn’t remember seeing anyone, inside or out.
“We don’t see anybody there going in and out, even cars,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “It’s scary. We don’t know who our neighbors are.”