REPLICA guns were found in a haul of more than 200 suspected counterfeit toys seized by Lancashire County Council’s trading standards officers in the attic and front room of a house in Nelson.
The realistic metal-coloured toys were found during a raid last Friday morning and also included major branded names such as Cars, Toy Story and Ben 10. They are now illegal under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 because of their potential use in crime.
The business is thought to have been selling 60 toys a week in the run up to Christmas, at between £10 and £20 each, making a possible £900 a week.
Trading standards officers also seized a DVD copying tower and large numbers of blank discs, plus copied DVDs, and hundreds of DVD cases, thought to be linked to illegal trading in counterfeit DVDs.
Investigations are continuing into the seizures. A decision will be made soon on whether charges will be brought.
Head of Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Service Paul Noone said: “Toys sold in the UK have to comply with a strict European standard governing toxins in paint, entrapment hazards, electrical safety and sharp edges among other safeguards. Counterfeit toys are unlikely to be tested to this standard and may be hazardous to children.
“If there is a safety problem with a genuine toy, trading standards would request a recall.
“However if these toys prove to be dangerous, we would be unable to trace the shipment.
“Criminal activities such as this can send our genuine manufacturers and retailers out of business. Once a low-quality fake product hits the market, a reputation built up over years and the jobs relying on it are at risk.”
County Coun. Mohammed Iqbal urged people not to buy goods from the “illegal” traders.
“Nelson town centre is trying to get back on its feet andI would ask people to support local businesses wherever they can,” he said.
County Coun.Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, added: “Counterfeiters make a fortune while avoiding paying much-needed taxes. This raid sends out a message to those operating illegally that such activity will not be tolerated in Lancashire.”
Anyone who suspects they have seen counterfeit goods on sale can report them by calling the Consumer Direct hotline on 08454 04 05 06.