$24m of goods netted in UK's largest-ever counterfeit seizure

Pat Corfield showing fake goodsPolice in Staffordshire have seized what is thought to be largest-ever haul of counterfeit goods on the UK mainland, netting fake headphones, DVDs and CDs and clothing.

A raid on a storage unit in Birmingham by Staffordshire police and Trading Standards officers uncovered thousands of boxes of assorted goods, including Beats By Dr Dre headphones, which required 42 crates and several removal vans to transport to a secure unit.

Tom Hobbins, a spokesman for Staffordshire County Council, said the haul is estimated to be worth nearly £15m ($24m). Along with the fake Beats By Dr Dre headphones officers also found counterfeit Ugg boots, Ralph Lauren and SuperDry clothing, Chanel perfume and brandname USB memory sticks, as well as just-released and pre-release movies and music.

The council's cabinet member for communities, Pat Corfield (pictured), said: "Our trading standards officers and colleagues are confident they have smashed a major supply route in the manufacture and retail of counterfeit goods."

The operation came about in part because of a collaboration between the council and BBC consumer affairs programme Watchdog Daily, which covered the sale of counterfeit headphones in a south Staffordshire market in one of its shows last week.

After the show was aired, an anonymous tip-off led to the discovery of the Birmingham storage unit, said Hobbins, who noted that the police investigation is still ongoing to try to identify the source of the counterfeit goods.

The operation was also supported by representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and music industry organisation BPI.

"Music is a popular gift during the festive season and we are pleased that thousands of fake CDs, DVDs and Beats By Dr Dre headphones will not end up under the Christmas tree this year," said David Wood, BPI's director of anti-piracy.

"The record industry loses approximately £100m a year due to the sale of counterfeit discs however these fakes simply fund organised crime gangs and defraud not only the legitimate music industry but government as well," he added.

In August Staffordshire launched an awareness campaign called Fight the Fakes with the help of more than 300 independent retailer across the county. The campaign also involved giving ultraviolet light devices to shops to check the duty mark on alcohol products.

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