Neighbours put on watch for drug clues

Bryan Cranston as meth cook Walter White in TV hit Breaking Bad. Photo / AP
Bryan Cranston as meth cook Walter White in TV hit Breaking Bad. Photo / AP

Neighbours in Australia are being urged to look out for strange smells, chemical containers and blacked out windows in a new drug-lab campaign being linked to television's Breaking Bad programme.

The campaign comes after police admitted the proliferation of suburban drug labs was beginning to resemble the hit series, about a chemistry teacher who cooks up meth in neighbourhood spots.

Emergency services have responded to explosions in two suspected Sydney drug labs within 24 hours. Two men were badly burned in the first explosion, at Barden Ridge in south Sydney on Sunday night. A third man was burned in a Bankstown explosion on Monday afternoon.

The campaign will feature a poster identifying seven tell-tale signs a house is being used as a clandestine drug lab.

NSW Drug Squad commander Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said already this year police had closed down 84 labs used to manufacture drugs including Ice, speed and Ecstasy, and 163 hydro houses where cannabis was grown.

"Many of these drug dens blend into regular suburbia and neighbours may have no idea what the house is being used for," he said.

"We're hopeful this new poster will educate members of the community on the signs.

But he warned people not to go into suspected drug labs, which have an explosive mix of dangerous chemicals.

The final episode of Breaking Bad aired on Monday.

Bad signs

* Indications you could be living next door to a drug lab:
* Strange odours coming from the property.
* Diverted electricity.
* Chemical containers and waste.
* Blacked-out windows.
* Hoses and pipes in strange places.
* Blinds down but bright lights inside.
* Vehicles coming and going at odd hours.


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