Sniffer dog uncovers illicit tobacco at Burnley shop

A sniffer dog has helped Trading Standards officers from Lancashire County Council to find and seize a large haul of illicit tobacco from cunning hiding places at a shop in Burnley.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 2:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 2:26 pm
The operation was mounted with the assistance of Lancashire police, and a dog from Wagtail UK Ltd.

The cigarettes and tobacco, worth around £12,000 if genuine, were also confiscated from a shop in Preston.

The operation was mounted with the assistance of Lancashire police, and a dog from Wagtail UK Ltd, which provides detection dogs for government agencies.

After an inspection of the two premises on Wednesday, April 24th, the cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco were found hidden in a flat above the Preston shop, and concealed beneath a manhole cover in the back yard of the Burnley shop.

The items were a mixture of counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco, all in banned colourful child-appealing packaging, and most bearing foreign health warnings.

The tobacco dog was brought in after officers had been unable to find stashes during previous inspections, despite both shops having sold illicit tobacco during test purchasing operations, and a stream of supporting intelligence.

This result is the latest of a number of seizures and prosecutions by Lancashire Trading Standards in recent months.

Around 200,000 illicit cigarettes and around 40kg tobacco were taken from Lancashire traders in 50 separate seizures in the last 12 months, resulting in 17 criminal convictions.

Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards service, said: "The number of cases we are dealing with demonstrates the value of the illegal trade in tobacco, with some unscrupulous retailers clearly being reluctant to comply with the law on tobacco sales. Cheap illicit tobacco is readily available to young people and encourages them to smoke.

"The sale and manufacture of illegal tobacco has a serious impact on legitimate businesses, and our communities, and is something we're determined to tackle."

Concerned residents are advised to report all illicit tobacco sales and intelligence to the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline 03454 040506.