A spate of thefts in Amsterdam suggests the Porsche's xenon lights could be the perfect bit of horticultural kit for cultivating marijuana

One would expect the high-power headlights of luxury car brand Porsche to be pretty good at startling deer and blinding other drivers. But according to rumours circulating in Amsterdam, their high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon lamps are good for cultivating cannabis too.

At the last count, 35 sets of headlights have been reported stolen from Porsche Cayenne and Panamera models in the Dutch capital in recent months. Oddly, the rest of the country has so far been unaffected. Motoring blogs have blamed this trend on marijuana farmers being unwilling to fork out for the expensive lighting systems needed to maximise their harvest.

As well as producing the correct light-to-heat ratio for growing cannabis, the xenon bulbs are highly energy efficient. Even small-scale cannabis farms require vast amounts of electricity, which makes the bulbs attractive for rogue herbalists.

But could Porsche really have inadvertently engineered such a useful piece of horticultural kit? One Dutch hydroponic expert, known only as Midnight Gardener, says it is possible. "HID bulbs would work. We sell normal HID bulbs, but the xenon ones must have something extra. It must be kids, or people who are down and out. It makes the whole growing business look bad though."

Another factor could be that the lights are simply too easy to steal. Online CCTV footage from late October shows a young man taking less than a minute to flick out the bulbs from a Panamera parked right outside someone's house.

Porsche, which is working on ways to make the thefts harder, points out that it is not only its vehicles getting parts pilfered; it says the desirability is for xenon lamps, rather than specifically Porsche lights. "Obviously there are other brands being stolen too," says Hannie Steeman of Porsche Amsterdam, "but we don't know why. The only thing I can say is it that it's a really local thing. It's restricted to Amsterdam."

Currently the most popular lights used for growing cannabis are high-pressure sodium bulbs, which produce the optimum intensity and lumens (a measure of visible light) for the plants to flourish. Lumens, explains Midnight Gardener, "are what get you the big tomatoes".

He has 12 years' experience in the business, and the news has sparked his curiosity. "I'm going to have to do some research. Maybe these bulbs have a different intensity that's good for growers. I've actually got a Porsche Cayenne out the front. I might take one light off to try … it'll be winking for a few days."

© Guardian News and Media 2012

[Porsche headlight via Shutterstock]