How to spot a drug lab

DRUG BUST: Police tape surrounds a home on Alexandra Street in East Bundaberg where police discovered a suspected drug lab. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
DRUG BUST: Police tape surrounds a home on Alexandra Street in East Bundaberg where police discovered a suspected drug lab. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

WITH police attending more than 30 drug incidents in the Bundaberg region this year alone, here's how you can spot the cooks contributing to the rise in amphetamine use, according to Bundaberg Police.

A drug lab isn't always obvious. They can range from improvised items, like a few saucepans and glass jars, to an elaborate system of laboratory glassware, or a pill press, tablet press or encapsulator.

Most drugs labs detected in Queensland are small and therefore highly portable - meaning they may not just be in the house next door but could be inside vehicles including trucks, caravans, boats, trailers and cars.

It's also not just the dangerous drugs themselves that you should be wary of in a drug lab: they can also be a huge safety hazard. Precursor chemicals in drug production can become explosive combinations.

Toxic fumes, explosions and fires are all potential risks, causing everything from immediate harm to long term health issues caused by prolonged exposure to poisonous substances.

Research also shows that children living in homes where drug labs are located can be at greater risk of abuse and neglect.

There are plenty of signs to be wary of - but police urge people to never touch anything you think may be drug related paraphernalia. If you suspect a drug lab is present, don't enter the premises - leave immediately and contact the police.


  • Suspicious equipment such as improvised heating and cooling mechanisms
  • Used materials surrounding a property such as cold and flu packets, empty pseudoephedrine blister strips, gas cylinders or butane fuel cans, stained coffee filters, pH testers or test strips or water pumps
  • An unusual chemical smell
  • Plastic containers (with or without chemical labels) at the premises
  • Laboratory glassware being carried into a premises or present at a premises
  • Fan or pump type noise coming from the premises
  • Residents never putting their rubbish out or burning their rubbish
  • Little or no traffic at a residence during the day, but frequent traffic late at night or at odd hours
  • Windows blackened out or extra effort to ensure windows and doors are covered or reinforced
  • Evidence of unusual electrical work surrounding the premises
  • Noticeable hoses and pipes near windows or doors
  • Installation of extractor fans, especially in garages and sheds
  • Recently rented premises where residents are rarely there
  • A new tenant willing to pay rent months in advance, using only cash
  • New rental applicants who try to avoid background checks
  • Chemical/reaction waste, often carelessly disposed of

If you see anything suspicious, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Bundaberg Police on 4153 9111.

If you need help, or you want to help someone you know with a drug problem, contact Bridges on 1300 707 355.

Topics:  crime drug lab drugs

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