This list is for the highly paranoid. Some of the following are highly unlikely, but possible. Although it is not illegal/criminal to purchase growing equipment, if you can avoid attracting unwanted attention, you've got less to worry about. It really depends on the cops in your part of the world, but never think LEO aren't intelligent, their job is to screw you over. The following information may not be 100% relevant to your situation, this was written for a wide variety of people and situations.
1. ALWAYS PAY WITH CASH
Paying with a credit card is the biggest mistake you can make, as all the things you buy, and all your personal information become available to the cops. LEO can (and will) search this kind of information. Your hydro gear will show up on your credit statement, and on the storeís copy. Do not under-estimate LEO! They do know what is needed to grow, and will search for it.
DO NOT PARK YOUR CAR OUT THE FRONT OF THE SHOP
If the people in the grow shop suspect that you are growing cannabis, all they have to do is look outside and get your plates. This may sound like a bit of a paranoid thing to do, but park around the corner, or down the block! After all, the less information they have about you, the better.
Donít think about taking public transport, you never want to have to drag bulky grow equipment through buses, trains, and streets. Again, this could attract more attention than it will avoid. Perhaps, take a Ďsafeí car. Also, do not go directly home. This will eliminate a tail (in the unlikely event you picked one up).
3. DO NOT LOOK SUSPICIOUS
This means that you should not walk into the shop with a "YES I CANNABIS" shirt, and a black hat with a cannabis leaf on the front. Going into a shop stoned will not help either. Wearing respectable clothes, and looking well groomed will eliminate the idea that you are the worlds biggest stoner, possibley purchasing all this gear for the cultivation of an illegal 'erb!
Depending on the person in the shop, they could alert the cops and give them your name, a list of things you bought (if you were stupid), your house address, your car's plates etc. This is not a good thing! If the person at the counter will recongnise you tomorrow, you've screwed up. Do not leave an impression on these people, be a ghost. If you are absolutely average, they wont remember you when you go back to get other equipment, and wont ask questions. When you leave the shop, ask them if they have a box you can put your gear in. Walking from the shop to the car opens yourself up to all kinds of attention, if you've got an HPS, nutes etc under your arms!
4. DO NOT PURCHASE TOO MANY SUSPICIOUS ITEMS AT ONCE
People at grow shops aren't stupid. They know what people need to grow tomato's, lettuce etc. They also know what is not needed to grow these 'normal' things. If you walk into a shop, and purchase everything needed for cannabis cultivation, they might suspect something.
5. KNOW YOUR STUFF
Donít flounder about in the shop, you will get stressed and make mistakes. Know exactly what you want before you enter the shop, go in, get the stuff, come out. No problems. If you have to start asking people WHERE ARE YOU NUTES, I NEED TO SET UP A 100 BUCKET DWC SYSTEM, I NEED HPS LIGHTS FOR FLOWERING...
Knowing who is in the shop, remembering faces, remembering cars in the parking lot. This can be an valuable asset, because if you see these same cars/people in random places, be suspicious. Don't freak out if you fear you are being watched, just act normally, do what you can without incriminating yourself any further, and slowly but surely, GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!
6. GET A FRIEND TO GET IT ALL FOR YOU
If you can get a very trusted friend to get it all for you, then you can relax. Obviously, they arenít growing, since he bought the equipment for you. The cops can watch your friend all they want, they donít know that you are the one who is actually growing!
7. DONT MOVE THE EQUIPMENT INTO YOUR HOUSE DIRECTLY
Perhaps put an old cardboard box in your car, and before going into the house, pack all the stuff into the box. This just means that nosey neighbors wont have a clue. Neighbors will watch you, donít be so stupid to think they wont. After all, some neighbors can be very nosey. Carrying equipment in using black garbage bags is a definite no-no! Try using either a backpack or an old TV box, then everyone can look at you, and they'll just think you've got a new TV.
8. USE DIFFERENT GROW SHOPS
For the really paranoid, it might be a good idea to buy your lighting from one shop, drive across town and buy your nutes/soil from another shop and so forth. This will eliminate the people making a direct connection between you, and cannabis cultivation. Of course, pay only with cash, as LEO could see that you've made 6 different purchases, from all over town, with the exact equipment for cultivating cannabis. This would be a sure sign that something is up.
9. HAVE A REASON FOR PURCHASING THE EQUIPMENT
If the person in the grow shop politely asks "What are you going to be growing" and you fumble and say "PEACHES", that could be a sign that you're stressed, and are hiding something. Research other things that require similar things to cannabis. For example, if you are wanting to buy a few HPS's, find out what other plant requires a good HPS. This also relates to other equipment. This will help you walk into the shop confidently, and have no paranoia during the purchase. An idea (but be careful, this may not apply to every situation) is to say you are buying it for your boss, and you were just instructed to go to the shop and get it for him. HPS lights are used commonly as security lights, use that to your advantage.
10. DO NOT MAKE STUPID MISTAKES
Take your time planning everything. Iím sure you've paid much attention to ensuring your house wont smell of bud, that your grow room is light proof, why would you go attracting attention to yourself when purchasing the goods?
This is something many people overlook, and can result in paranoia attacks later on in your grow (when it really counts). The means that you shouldnít leave your wallet on the counter, donít give them your phone-number, donít smell of weed, donít fumble when asked questions. The number one rule is safety, and if these people have no hint of an idea that you are growing weed, that is excellent! Just be careful, be calm, and be confident.
Some Helpful Tips:
*Be polite, these people are just trying to do their job, and depending on the person, that may mean alerting LEO to your activities. If you can prove your a nice person, there is less risk of them getting frustrated with you, and less risk of them alerting LEO.
*Buy whatever you can from non-grow shops, for example, buying a HPS security light from a hardware store will save much hassle, no-one will suspect a thing.
*Don't call them before you go, especially not on a cell phone. If you need to know what products they have, let friends go for you (or let a friend call them), or you could use the internet. If they are a larger shop, they will more than likely have a good website with a product list. Try to resist purchasing things over the website, you never know how secure it is.
*Remember, as far as they are concerned, you are buying this stuff to grow perfectly LEGAL things. Relax.
*The customer is always right (that being you). These people are here to sell you a legit product, and you are there to pay them money and use it for legit purposes. They want your business! Thatís all they should (and usually) do care about you, and your situation. Not all people are like this, so trust your instincts on this one.
****AND THE GOLDEN RULE: NEVER BUY CANNABIS CULTIVATION EQUIPMENT ONLINE, THIS CAN BE TRACED BY LEO, WILL ALL THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO SEARCH YOUR HOUSE. SOME OF YOU WILL INSIST ON BUYING EQUIPMENT EITHER OVER THE PHONE OR INTERNET, HERE ARE SOME
*DO NOT GIVE YOUR CORRECT INFORMATION
*HAVE THE EQUIPMENT DELIVERED TO A FRIENDS HOUSE
(If you feel you have to purchase equipment online, make sure they accept cash, they deliver with a courier, and that you use false information. Also check that they do not store customer information in their databases. Make sure the site is secure, and use a proxy)