March 10, 2022 12.30 pm

Watch: Boston shop’s remote controlled mechanism in ceiling to hide illegal goods

“There is a sense of professional achievement in finding a particularly clever concealment”

A shop in Boston is under investigation after Trading Standards captured shocking footage of a remote controlled ceiling light which concealed illegal cigarettes in a hidden shelf.

Officers from Lincolnshire Police’s licensing team joined Trading Standards on a visit to a shop on Horncastle Road, following suspicions of illicit activity.

During the visit one of the most elaborate hide jobs was found in the history of Trading Standards, with over 5,000 illegal cigarettes found concealed in a secret compartment inside a ceiling light.

Inside the ceiling light were over 5,000 illegal cigarettes. | Photo: LCC

Controlled by the touch of a button on a modified car key, the ceiling light lowers to reveal shelves packed with counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

What made these cigarettes illegal is the lack of requirement to self-extinguish if left unattended, a law in the UK which aims to reduce the risk of accidental house fires.

All items were seized and the extremely secretive matter is now under investigation by the authorities.

A very elaborate ploy indeed, but nothing gets past Trading Standards. | Photo: LCC

Andy Wright, Principal Trading Standards Officer with Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said he has seen numerous unique attempts to hide illicit items, but accepted that this was particularly thorough.

“I’ve now been working to combat illegal cigarette sales in Lincolnshire for 12 years. Hides, or concealments, are becoming more and more elaborate as retailers attempt to hide illegal cigarettes from Trading Standards and the police.

“Suspending the weight of the metal box in the ceiling must have been quite an undertaking. The shop concerned had only just opened, and raised our suspicions because it was so tiny, it would be inadequate as a viable retail business and could only be profitable as a source of illegal goods.

“Clearly they had invested some time and money in a venture they thought would prove profitable for a long time.”

Sgt Ian Cotton from the Lincolnshire Police Licensing Team said: “This shows how valuable partnership working is. These people go to great lengths to cover up what is a lucrative illicit business.

“Law abiding shop owners are at a significant disadvantage because of this criminality and we will continue to work with our partners to stop it.”