POLICE officers are urging residents to look out for the telltale signs of cannabis cultivation after more than 240 plants were seized at a town centre property earlier this month.

Proactive work between officers and the roads policing team in Barnsley led to the arrest of a 25-year-old man last Wednesday, after a total of 246 cannabis plants were found inside a property on Princess Street.

It started as roads policing officer PC Tom Casserly requested a driver to stop on New Street due to the condition of his car - the driver had a ‘strong smell’ of cannabis.

The man was arrested and his car seized after it was found he had no insurance and no driving licence.

PC Casserly said: “The driver had no licence and no insurance so I seized his car - after further checks I could see that he was also wanted by immigration.

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“While in custody, information led us to believe the man could be involved in the cultivation of cannabis and he was subsequently further arrested.

“Further information led a warrant being issued for a property, and local officers took over the investigation.

“This outcome shows that routine traffic stops are essential and often lead to further criminality being detected.

“As roads policing officers we continue to work hard to intercept criminals who use our road network.”

Upon entering the property they found plants and evidence of electrics being tampered with - including changing concreting and infrastructure. In a bid to combat those who use properties to grow cannabis, the Cannabis Grow Aware scheme was launched by police last August and so far more than 30 Barnsley landlords and agents have signed up.

The aim of the programme was to make private properties which PC Paul Davies, who launched the scheme, identified as having a 95 per cent correlation with cannabis cultivation less enticing to criminals, while also highlighting landlords who are either turning a blind eye to the activity or actively engaging in it.

Clandestine operations to stamp out associated crime last year resulted in several six-figure drug hauls being seized, police revealed, with more than 200 separate cannabis-growing set-ups across 2019 and 2020. PC Davies added: “Alongside the criminality associated with cannabis production, there are also associated dangers with the changes offenders make to properties.

“Tampering with electrics increases the risk of fire not only to that property but adjoining and neighbouring buildings.

“The signs to be aware of are a heavy constant smell of cannabis, windows blacked out, excessive condensation on windows, letterbox blocked, heavy use of anti-odour devices, bins not being used and visitors at unusual hours staying for a short period of time.”

Aflred Bezati, 25, of no fixed abode, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, March 4, charged with production of cannabis - he will appear at Sheffield Crown Court on April 1.