The ‘greatest overall single recovery of counterfeit goods at any UK market’ took place at Wellesbourne Market last weekend.
Nearly £3 million worth of counterfeit goods were seized and four arrests made on Saturday during a joint operation with Warwickshire Trading Standards, HM Revenue & Customs and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
More than 20 police officers, including members of the Special Constabulary for both Warwickshire and West Mercia forces, were involved in the all-day operation, aimed at tackling rogue trading and the illegal use of Warwickshire’s road network.
Graham Consterdine, head of brand protection at BP Abraxas, praised the work of all those involved.
He said “This raid has been the greatest overall single recovery of counterfeit goods of any UK market ever.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for making it such a success.”
Phase two of the operation, which was also attended by the police and crime commissioner Ron Ball and Warwickshire chief constable Andy Parker, took place as traders were dismantling their stalls after the market closed at around 4pm .
Two vehicles were seized as they tried to make off and a large quantity of fake goods found inside.
Further items including T-shirts, jackets, trainers, DVDs, watches, jewellery, make-up, electrical items and perfume were recovered from nine other vehicles that were abandoned as police raided the market.
In total these counterfeit goods are believed to have a retail value of £2.85 million.
Officers arrested four men on suspicion of illegal trading at the market and subsequently searched six properties in Birmingham with Trading Standards officers, recovering more goods and a quantity of money.
Following questioning the men were released pending further enquiries by Trading Standards.
Janet Faulkner, head of Warwickshire Trading Standards, said: “This seizure of counterfeit goods sends out a strong warning to traders selling fakes that their activities will not be tolerated in this county.
“A key priority of Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards service is to support legitimate business and take action against those who trade unlawfully or negligently.”
Mr Ball added: “Wellesbourne market is a popular local feature in South Warwickshire. It is also – sadly – an opportunity for ‘rogue traders’ to ply counterfeit and illegal goods.
“Apart from selling the public short, and sometimes endangering them with shoddy products – they threaten the livelihood of other traders trying to earn a legitimate living.
“I was impressed to witness first hand this two-part operation. I personally witnessed arrests, vehicle seizures and large quantities of fake goods being abandoned by illegal traders – all these operations were conducted in a highly professional manner. The message is simple. Legitimate traders are welcome. We will disrupt the operation of the non legitimate traders.”
Phase one of the operation took place in the morning with around 30 officers and staff targeting shoppers entering the market. VOSA seized five cars and one motorbike with defects.
Three of the vehicles were not allowed to leave until the problems, including a defective tyre, insecure exhaust and lighting defect, were fixed.
The other vehicles were allowed to go but the drivers told to sort out the defects within 10 days. Working alongside VOSA, Warwickshire police dealt with the following motor offences:
· Three people were given a fixed penalty notice for having no vehicle insurance.
· A fixed penalty notice was also issued for failing to provide the correct booster seat for a child aged under 12.
· One person was issued a penalty ticket for having an expired MOT.
· Another was issued a penalty ticket for failing to wear a seatbelt.
· Two people had their driving licence revoked on medical grounds.
· One person was issued a penalty ticket for not meeting regulations over the style of their number plate.
· Four cars were also seized by police officers for having no insurance & revoked driving licences.
Warwickshire Police chief constable Andy Parker stressed the importance of reminding drivers to check that their photo card driving licence is still within date -(they are valid ten years from date of issue.
If they are not in date then the vehicle insurance is invalidated and their vehicle could be seized as happened at this operation.
After the operation Mr Parker said, “This operation sends out a strong message to those who break the law and those who don’t insure their vehicles. Our officers, specials and volunteers are all working to proactively target those responsible for crime in our community, and those who cause danger on our roads.”