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Thread: Couple robbed by drugs gang because plant in their garden smelt like cannabis

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    Default Couple robbed by drugs gang because plant in their garden smelt like cannabis

    By Victoria Ward
    7 SEPTEMBER 2017 • 7:28PM

    The distinct smell emanating from the house at the end of the cul-de-sac had been familiar to the neighbours for years. But when masked gangsters forced their way into the property, demanding its occupants hand over their cannabis stash, the middle-aged couple were understandably bewildered.

    The couple, it emerged, had a plant growing in their front garden commonly called Caucasian Crosswort, which gives off a smell resembling cannabis, and which the bungling burglars appear to have mistaken for the drug.

    On discovering that the house was not, in fact, a cannabis factory, the gang made off instead with cash and other personal items.

    But the pair were left traumatised and utterly baffled about what had led to the mistake. Police officers called to the property, in Winford, Bristol, were equally confused.

    They could smell the strong scent of cannabis outside the house but were unable to identify the source.

    Eventually, one of the officers contacted Alan Down, a local horticulture expert, asking for help.

    "The police officer who came to see me said he specialised in drugs," Mr Down said.

    "He knew of several plants that smelled like cannabis but he couldn't see them in the garden."

    Mr Down told the officer to take cuttings of the smelliest plants in the couple’s garden and he soon identified the culprit as Phuopsis stylosa, known as Caucasian Crosswort.

    “The smell is so distinct, it really does smell like cannabis,” he told the Telegraph.

    “It’s more intense when it’s hot and dry.

    “It’s an uncommon garden plant that makes good ground cover and is easy to grow but it comes from Iran and is an unusual plant to find in the UK.”

    Mr Down said he was able to identify the plant, which has delicate pink flowers, because he had spotted it once on a farmyard in Cornwall and taken a photograph.

    “I like a challenge,” he added. “I knew roughly what it was but it took me a little while. The police were very grateful. I assume this couple will dig it up now.”

    Neighbours said the smell had emitted from the garden for at least ten years but most thought it was foxes.

    One neighbour said: “The smell is quite strong. It always smelt as if it was where foxes had been.

    “The couple who live there didn’t plant it, it’s been there for many, many years.

    “But I’m not sure how anyone would even know about it. Unless you were looking for it, you couldn’t possibly know it was there. No one would have cause to walk past that house.”

    The previous owner of the house, who did not wish to be identified, had lived there from 1999 and said she believed it was already in the well-established garden when she purchased the house and had no idea where it had come from.

    “It was by the front door,” she said. “We could sometimes smell quite a strong scent but we thought it was foxes as there are a lot around there.”

    An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said they were still investigating the aggravated burglary that occurred in the early hours of August 15.

    “Masked men went into the property and threatened the occupants, before making off with cash and other personal items,” he added.

    “Officers with the local neighbourhood team have been providing support to the victims and recently identified a plant growing in the victims’ garden commonly called Caucasian Crosswort, which gives off a smell resembling cannabis.

    “We believe this smell may have led to a case of mistaken identity, with the offenders believing cannabis was being grown at the property.

    “We’ve advised the victims to remove the plants and would appeal to anyone with information about this incident to come forward.”


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017...like-cannabis/
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