BALLARAT police uncovered a massive cannabis-growing operation at Sebastopol on Tuesday night after being called to the property on a burglary tip-off.
The sole occupant was missing from the house before police arrived at 7.30pm, but they searched neighbouring properties for a “wounded man”, according to residents.
Despite reports the man had been stabbed, an officer on the scene would only confirm evidence suggested “something had happened at this address”.
The hydroponic operation took up a large part of the house, and police rented a light truck to take away all the gear on Wednesday.
It included dozens of mature marijuana plants, stems, lighting fixtures, transformers and a heating system, which were tagged and removed by detectives and a forensics team.
The next door neighbour, who declined to be named, said the break-in could have taken place on Tuesday morning, because the front door and windows had already been broken by lunchtime.
“There was a van in the driveway that I’d never seen before, and the broken windows are new,” she said.
Police acted on the tip-off in the evening, noting that an “unknown person had forced entry” to the house in the report.
The next door neighbour said she had some suspicions about the house, but was shocked to find out it was a fully-fledged grow operation.
“The blinds were shut all day. I didn’t really see him during the day either,” she said.
“He was a quiet young man. I never expected all this,” she said, pointing to police in the house.
Brett Wright was at home in his adjoining property when the police started searching the house on Tuesday night, and was questioned by police about his neighbour.
“They asked me if I knew him, last time I saw him, that kind of thing. A few months ago I wouldn’t have even known someone lived there,” he said. “About an hour later, they came and searched my backyard.”
Powercor cut down the power line to the house, which the next door neighbour said was installed by a group of men a few years ago.
“We called the police about it, but I don’t think anything happened,” she said.