When police raided a clandestine drug lab allegedly worth many millions of dollars in Hume last Tuesday, they were confronted with a curious and unexplained guest: a look-alike of the Crystal Ship motor home in the US television series Breaking Bad.
However, Chris Convine, whose brother’s motor home was parked outside the shed he owns that is adjacent to the alleged drug laboratory, didn’t see the humour in police staring at the beige monster until, of course, an officer explained the plot of Breaking Bad and asked if he could take a picture.
A tip-off by WorkSafe ACT led police to the Sheppard Street drug lab where they uncovered chemicals and equipment capable of producing "many, many millions of dollars [worth]" of ecstasy.
In the acclaimed TV series, former high-school chemistry teacher Walter White and business partner Jesse Pinkman convert a beige Fleetwood Bounder recreation vehicle (RV) into a mobile laboratory to make methamphetamine to secure White's family’s financial future.
The motor home has a cult status among the show's fans, who have built toy tribute versions of the RV, including an unlicensed Lego concept set. Visitors to Albuquerque, New Mexico, can tour the show's main sites inside a replica vehicle, which even spews out coloured smoke from its rooftop air vent.
Mr Convine has been struggling to sell his 1984 A-Class Southwind motor home for many years and he now hopes the vehicle will find a buyer after its incidental role as a backdrop to one of the biggest drug-manufacturing busts in the ACT.
“It’s such a huge coincidence,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to watch [the show] now.”
Mr Convine said he was confused when a member of the police laughed at the motor home, pointed at it, and began taking pictures of it with his mobile phone.
“I went up to him asked him what he was doing and he said ‘You do realise what this is, don’t you? It’s the van out of Breaking Bad! I just have to take a photo. You don’t mind do you?',” Mr Covine said.
Mr Convine had hoped to detail and convert the motor home with his brother but their plans were abandoned when his sibling relocated to the US to marry an American. Since then, the motor home has been collecting dust outside the warehouse and occasionally getting in the way of forklifts and delivery vans.
Local workers on Sheppard Street said they would be happy to see the motor home disappear, should someone seek to cash in on the Breaking Bad fame.
While the Convine brothers have restored cars made famous by movies such as Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard, they say their purchase of the Breaking Bad look-a-like was purely coincidental.