Two canine crime fighters have sniffed out Oldham’s biggest ever seizure of illegal or counterfeit tobacco.
The two ‘tobacco detection dogs’ named Bradley and conveniently named Buster dug out more than 45,800 cigarettes and 23kg of hand rolling tobacco for the council’s Trading Standards team.
Predicted to have fetched a street value of around £12,000, the operation was part of the local authority’s pre-Christmas crackdown on the sale of counterfeit goods.
“Tobacco detection dogs are valued members of our team – but they aren’t that popular with people who think they can get away with selling illegal or counterfeit tobacco,” said Councillor Dave Hibbert, a Cabinet Member on Oldham Council.
“These dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes even if they are stashed away and hidden. Offenders need to know that they will face prosecution if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”
The officers were able to take action after information was passed over to them by members of the public.
Bradley and Buster, provided by a specialist detection dog company and funded by councils across the city, helped to detect the tobacco during the raid on a property in the centre of Oldham.
Councillor Hibbert warned of the dangers of illegal tobacco, saying that you couldn’t trust its ingredients.
“Providing cheap – but fake or illegal tobacco – may be encouraging people, including children, to smoke,” he said.
“At this time of year most people are looking for a bargain and money can be tight but as well as the obvious health risks related to smoking, counterfeit cigarettes have also been found to contain anything from asbestos to rat droppings.”