PEDDLERS of counterfeit goods are feeling the pinch after a string of seizures by the authorities.
Trading standards officers in Sunderland have confiscated thousands of pounds-worth of dodgy items including cigarettes, DVDs, vodka and clothing.
And the campaign has resulted in 23 convictions during the last two years.
In total, more than 40,000 cigarettes and 33kg of hand-rolling tobacco have been picked up since 2009.
Just under 20,000 DVDs, along with 764 items of clothing, 182 items of jewellery and 70kg of washing powder have been impounded.
Nearly 10 litres of imitation vodka was also taken – something which can pose a health threat if consumed.
Across the city, 46 raids have taken place and apart from the convictions, 10 warning letters have been given out as well as two cautions.
Coun John Kelly, portfolio holder for Safer City and Culture, said: “Trading standards enforce consumer protection laws in order to protect the public and businesses in the city.
“For example, the sale of counterfeit goods such as DVDs or clothing could have a negative impact upon jobs with local retailers of the legitimate items.
“We also tackle the sale of counterfeit tobacco and alcohol which can lead to the greater use of potential harmful products, including by children.”
James Ramsbotham, North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “The illegal sale of cheap imported goods and counterfeit products costs businesses in the UK millions every year.
“Seizures like this from Sunderland Council’s trading standards team are vital to maintain an even playing field for the city’s retailers.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland warned about the health risks from counterfeit goods.
He said: “The dangers of consuming too much alcohol are well known, but when the product is fake, those risks increase hugely.
“One cannot overstate the dangers of consuming, or smoking, anything that has not been bought legally over the counter.
“You don’t know where it has come from, what it contains, and what effect it will have.
“The trust would advise anyone to exercise extreme caution about such goods.
“Tobacco products, whether fake or not, are a major risk to health and will result in illness and early death.
“Similarly, drinking excess alcohol has a huge impact on public health.
“It leads to a variety of potentially lethal conditions such as liver damage, where the rates among young women have rocketed in recent years, heart conditions and cancers.”