December 7, 2022 9.14 am This story is over 16 months old

Over 10,000 illegal cigarettes found in elaborate ‘hides’ Grantham shop raids

Hand-rolling tobacco, 350 illegal vapes and cash also seized

Joint agency raids on two premises in Grantham have led to more than 10,000 illegal cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, 350 illegal vapes and cash seized.

Many of the contraband items had been hidden in elaborate ‘hides’ within one shop.

The raids were carried out by Lincolnshire Trading Standards, Lincolnshire Police’s licensing team and Grantham’s neighbourhood policing team.

At 28 Westgate, known as The Local Store, illegal goods were found hidden in three separate locations – in a hide behind a bathroom mirror, in an electrically operated magnetic lock beneath the counter, and under the counter floor.

At ‘Baltic’ located at 16 Westgate, approximately 3,000 illegal cigarettes and 100 illegal vapes were found – mainly in the rear storeroom.

The operation was a result of community and police intelligence, and behind-the-scenes work by the Licencing Team, which is a partnership between Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire County Council.

PC Mark Barr, Community Beat Manager for the Grantham Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: “We know that the sale of illegal goods like this is linked to youth anti-social-behaviour (ASB) as well as organised crime.

“Disrupting that activity through raids at stores where we think there may be counterfeit goods puts an almighty dent in the profits of criminal gangs. Make no mistake, these stores can make up to £50,000 a week, so the profits involved in selling what is an illegal and often dangerous, product are quite staggering.

“This latest activity shows that we won’t tolerate this, and we will take action. We would encourage our community to continue to come forward with intelligence which can help us stamp out the sale and trade of counterfeit goods.”

Principal Lincolnshire Trading Standards officer, Andy Wright, said: “This is another excellent example of the partnership work between Trading Standards, Police Licensing and Police Neighbour Teams. Many of the cigarettes seized were counterfeit, and many don’t include vital safety features which allow them to self-extinguish when not being smoked, making them a huge fire safety risk.

“The complexity of the hides – both using electro-magnetic locks – in use in the second shop show that this was a professional enterprise with the specific objective of selling illegal cigarettes.

“Increasingly, we are finding shops selling illegal cigarettes also sell illegal vapes. Some of the illegal vapes seized contained way over the legal limit of nicotine, which some having the same nicotine content as 150 cigarettes.

“By tackling and removing shops selling illegal cigarettes, we’ve seen it can result in a huge reduction in general crime and anti-social behaviour in an area. We are aware of the concerns of local residents in those areas and, with help from our partner agencies, we are doing all that we can to help improve the quality of life in these communities.”

If you are concerned that a business is selling illegal cigarettes or vapes, you can report this to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service. Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or call 0808 223 1133. Or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, crimestoppers-uk.org.


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