Dutch police closed down 1,060 marijuana plantations where electricity was being stolen last year, well down on the 1800 which were discovered in 2021.
The figures come from grid companies, which say growers stole 75 million kWh of power in 2022, a sharp drop on the 111 million kWh stolen in the preceding three years.
Electricity firms say they don’t think the number of plantations has gone down in reality. ‘It would seem as if people are less willing to report them,’ spokesman Theo Scholte told the AD. ‘There has been a notable drop in tip-offs.’ Growers are also getting better at hiding their activities, he said.
Grid company Stedin, which operates networks in Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland, rolled up 266 marijuana plantations last year, compared with 405 in 2021.
‘Growers fiddle with the cables and steal a great deal of electricity,’ Stedin’s consumer affairs director Jan van Oorschot said. ‘That causes the risk of overheating and short circuits, which can lead to fires.’
Nationwide, plantations are responsible for some 65 fires a year.
Stedin said it plans to visit markets and trade fairs with a special ‘marijuana container’, with its own plantation inside, so that more people become aware what signs to look out for.
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