Trading Standards officers sniff out fake clothing and cigarettes to value of £33,000 in two Walsall raids

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By Walsall Advertiser | Friday, November 29, 2013, 10:00

THOUSANDS of illegal goods were seized in two raids across the borough this week.

Counterfeit designer goods with a retail value of £20,000 were taken away in a raid at Bescot Market.

And 35,000 suspected illegal and counterfeit cigarettes – at an estimated street value of around £13,000 – were uncovered from stores in Caldmore and Birchills.

Councillor Zahid Ali, portfolio holder for public protection in Walsall Council, said: "Working alongside our partners we will continue to track down, seize and investigate the sale of illegal goods throughout the borough and would warn those involved in the sale of counterfeit items that they could face prosecution and the possible loss of assets under the provisions of the proceeds of crime act."

Trading standards officers from Walsall Council, working alongside Walsall Police and investigators from major brand names, carried out a raid at Bescot Market on Sunday (November 24).

Fake goods including Ugg boots and clothing, Dr Dre Beats headphones, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and Fred Perry knitwear, Louis Vuitton belts and Rayban sunglasses were taken.

A spokesperson for Walsall Council said: "If the items had been genuine they would have been worth more than £20,000."

In addition to stalls a number of vehicles were searched and a quantity of counterfeit tobacco seized.

Cllr Ali said: "Fake goods are often of poor quality and as a basic rule if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Counterfeit goods can be identified in a number of ways.

"They tend to be sold at much lower prices than the genuine products with an inferior finish and appearance. Some brands of goods such as Gucci, Lacoste and Chanel are also not usually found legitimately on sale by traders at markets or car boots."

In a joint operation codenamed Operation Dalmation on Monday (November 25), Walsall Trading Standards and West Midlands Police raided two shops in Caldmore and Birchills.

Ozzie the detector dog and his handler Helen from Wagtail UK Ltd supported officers. The pooch sniffed out around 35,000 suspected illegal and counterfeit cigarettes – discovered in concealed places that would only have been discovered with the aid of a detector dog.

And a representative from the tobacco industry, who accompanied officers during the raid, admitted it was the largest find at a retail premises he had come across.

Cllr Ali added: "This was another example of successful collaboration involving Walsall Trading Standards and Police, following the seizure of counterfeit goods at Bescot Market the previous day.

"The sale of illegal tobacco is a serious criminal offence. Not only that but it severely damages the local economy and legitimate traders by gaining a competitive advantage at their expense, taking trade away from genuine hard working businesses.

"Counterfeit tobacco can contain products of unknown origin as well as not being labelled so consumers do not know what they are getting."



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