30 Christmas shoppers rescued after being left trapped inside Cheetham Hill counterfeit shop
The owner had locked the business and made an escape.
After officers conducting high visibility patrols in the area heard people shouting for help, they forced entry to the premises with an emergency warrant granted to preserve life and rescued the group of shoppers who were found huddled inside, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) explained.
It eventually transpired that one of the workers in the shop had been alerted by ‘spotters’ in the area – which are people paid to keep watch and alert illegitimate business owners of approaching police officers.
The worker had then locked the business and made an escape, which left members of the public shopping for Christmas trapped inside.
After rescuing the shoppers, officers then began searching the building and ended up finding lots of single-room shops selling counterfeit designer clothes, watches, electronics, and various other items, before setting about bagging, tagging and seizing everything within the building.
GMP says this process took over five days to complete due to the sheer amount of counterfeit goods.
This is the latest in a series of recent raids that are part of the ongoing ‘Operation Vulcan’.
Operation Vulcan is GMPs’ mission to crackdown on the sale of counterfeit and hit the finances of the gangs operating out of the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways areas of Manchester.
“Our officers had a duty of care to force their way in and safeguard the individuals who had been trapped inside a building that was structurally unsound, utterly unsafe, and from which they had absolutely no means of escape,” explained Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood.
“I appreciate that at Christmas time everyone wants to find a bargain, but by going to these illegal shops in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area, consumers are not only funding criminality, they are also putting themselves in very real danger.
“This isn’t the first report we’ve heard of members of the public being locked in, and we’ve even received reports of customers being assaulted by staff.
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“This latest seizure will make a dent in the finances of criminals but where Operation Vulcan will make the most impact is if members of the public start to shun these illegal businesses.
“They are bringing devastating harm to our communities and those running them have no regard for your safety or welfare.”
Featured Image – GMP