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 Reading

YoYo Sniffs Out 20,000 Illegal and Counterfeit Cigarettes

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Reading Council Trading Standards officers working a with sniffer dog YoYo seized over 20,000 illegal and counterfeit cigarettes during a raid in Reading last week, amounting to a street value of over £5,000.

YoYo - Reading sniffer dog

The illegal products were impounded during an inspection visit to European Mini Mart on Oxford Road in Reading, on the afternoon of Monday 31 January. The visit took place under Operation CeCe a National Trading Standards initiative, in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs to tackle illegal tobacco.

Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco that have been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit.

The counterfeit goods were found hidden in fast delivery cool bags behind the counter in the shop, with detection dog YoYo, the Cocker Spaniel, handled by Stuart Phillips of B.W.Y Canine, checking the rest of the shop and vehicles.

More than 20,000 counterfeit cigarettes were seized and will be destroyed.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Community Safety, said:

“This is a very positive result, with thanks to the council, partner agencies – and last, but not least, Yoyo – to tackle organised criminal activity in Reading and keep our residents safe.

“Detection dogs are highly skilled and can find tobacco and cigarettes hidden in the most unlikely of places. Offenders need to know that they can very likely face some quite significant consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products. Results such as this send a strong message to traders to simply not choose to stock such illegal products.

“Far from being a victimless crime, those involved in the illegal tobacco trade are compliant in making it more attractive  for children to start smoking, and taking advantage of cash-strapped families, all of which often feeds in to the funding of organised crime.”

Reporting Hotline

To report sources of illegal tobacco, contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 6 999 (information can be left anonymously).