POLICE have praised a member of the the public after a suspicious sighting led to the discovery of a large-scale cannabis farm.

Officers were contacted by a member of the public who saw a number of individuals leaving an address on Cleveland Road, Sunderland, wearing balaclavas, in the early hours of Tuesday.

The masked men left the front door of the property ajar, before getting into a vehicle and driving off in the direction of Chester Road.

The incident roused suspicion, and with a strong smell of cannabis coming from the house, the bystander swiftly alerted police.

Officers attended the address and found an industrial-scale cannabis farm which covered three floors of the property.

Almost 300 plants thought to be worth thousands of pounds were found and later destroyed. Inquiries into the farm are ongoing.

Sergeant Keith Goldsmith, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a large-scale cannabis farm with hundreds of plants found in various stages of growth. Thankfully, we have now taken action to prevent criminals from making any further financial gain from this property.

“These kinds of sophisticated operations often have links to organised crime and dangerous offenders, so it is important that these illegal drugs are found, destroyed and taken off the streets of Sunderland.

“We also found that the electric had been bypassed at the address in a bid to avoid capture, and no doubt, a big energy bill. This is not only illegal but could have potentially fatal consequences for the occupants and those living in neighbouring properties.

“This discovery was made possible because a member of the public saw something suspicious and contacted police. I would like to personally thank them for doing the right thing and picking up the phone.

“Nobody wants to live next to a potential death-trap, as these farms can so often be. As a result, we would encourage anybody who believes somebody is using a property for this purpose to contact police.”

  • Anyone who sees anything suspicious in their area is asked to contact police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.northumbria.police.uk.