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Safety and Security

08 Jul 2020

Looking out for signs of a drug lab

By Snr Sgt Alex O'Toole - Southbank Police Station

We are all firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in higher than normal vacancy rates in apartment buildings for both private rentals and short-stay accommodation options in Southbank.

Competition to attract renters and holiday makers has seen a reduction in pricing. Cheaper rentals are attractive to manufacturers of illegal drugs such as methylamphetamine (ice), amphetamine (speed), ecstasy and heroin.

The process of “cooking” ice and other meth-based drugs involves the use of dangerous chemicals including lithium metal, liquid ammonia, LPG, acetone, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda. The commonly known term for this type of drug manufacturing is a clandestine laboratory, i.e. clan lab.

Rental properties can become contaminated when tenants recreationally use or manufacture illegal substances on the premises. Contamination levels vary, however, manufacturing or “cooking” methylamphetamine can result in properties needing to be stripped and cleaned.

Residents should be aware of the following signs of a clan lab in an apartment:

  • Chemical smells and odours similar to varnish/paint thinner, vinegar/sour smells, ammonia.
  • Chemicals and equipment.
  • Glass equipment and cookware.
  • Portable gas tanks or other cylinders not normally used inside.
  • Chemical stains around household kitchen sink, laundry or toilet.
  • Yellow/brown staining of interior floors, walls, ceiling and appliance surfaces.
  • Pseudoephedrine tablet packaging lying around or in the rubbish.

If you suspect that there is a clan lab in your apartment building, do not approach it (or the tenants for that matter) as the chemicals inside could be dangerous or even lethal. Instead report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Southbank Police Station on 8635 0900. If you are a property owner and locate items described above, do not move or disturb anything and immediately contact 000 or Southbank Police Station on 8635 0900. Highly skilled members from Victoria Police’s Clandestine Laboratory Squad will attend and assess the clan lab and arrange for it to be dismantled.

Theft

Theft from motor vehicles continues to be a driver of crime in Southbank. Police are urging residents to take precautions with their vehicles and valuables by:

  • Ensuring your vehicle is locked even when in secure apartment parking;
  • Remove all valuables from your vehicle or put them out of sight if you cannot take them with you; and
  • Park in a well-lit and secure area – use your apartment carpark in preference to parking on the street.

These simple steps can prevent you from becoming the target of a thief •

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