SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – We may be a few months away from the legalization of recreational pot but Sacramento police are cracking down on illegal pot grows in the city.

Police invited us along to watch them confiscate about 500 plants from a South Sacramento grow house — that’s about 80 times more than the six allowed in each home.

In this case, the power bill tipped police off.

“Often times these houses are modified with the power, so it’s bypassed the meter, or it’s been rewired not up to code so it’s an extreme fire hazard,” said Sacramento Police Officer Eddie Macaulay.

“Totally shocking,” said one neighbor who says it’s a tight-knit community. “People who have lived here for years,” he said.

Neighbors say they’ve never noticed anything suspicious. But officers on the scene say the strong smell of marijuana and two iron gates out front — just feet apart — are red flags.

“This is a pleasant street,” the neighbor said.

Police say pleasant neighborhoods are now seeing a pot problem growing out of control. They say South Sacramento has 800 illegal operations like the one they busted, and citywide, there are 1,500 under investigation.

So why are there so many illegal operations sprouting up?

Detectives say that once marijuana becomes legal in California, pot growers are expecting a surge in demand and want to sell as much as they can.

But police now have their own bottom line.

“The message to the community is there are ways to legally grow marijuana in the city of Sacramento…you can get a permit…have six plants and show it’s ventilated properly…it’s for everyone’s safety that we maintain the marijuana,” said Officer Macaulay.

Officers arrested the two people who they say lived in the home. They face charges from cultivating marijuana to selling it.