Panicked boy alerted police to people – including his mum – locked inside Cheetham Hill counterfeit shop

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 6th January 2023

More than £13,000 and a large amount of counterfeit clothing and goods have been seized by police after yet more raids in Cheetham Hill.

It may be a new year, but stories like this one are still the same it seems.

Once again, as part of Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) ongoing ‘Operation Vulcan’ – which is a 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 – officers were out conducting high visibility patrols when they were stopped by a panicked boy who said his mum had been locked inside a shop on Harris Street.

It came after the ‘spotters’ – which are people paid to keep watch and alert illegitimate business owners of approaching officers – had told the shop owner that police were patrolling the area.

After the boy alerted them, officers then forced entry under section 17 – which is an emergency warrant granted to preserve life – and rescued the mum and a further 20 people who had been trapped inside by the shopkeepers spooked by the police presence.


Police then carried out a full search of the building.

More than £8,000 cash and two large floors of counterfeit clothing were found inside.


GMP has confirmed that two men, aged 26 and 28, were arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit trademark offences at the premises, and their arrest then led to three further locations being searched.

These subsequent searches resulted in a further £5,000 cash being recovered and a large amount of counterfeit clothing being seized.

Both males were interviewed and have been bailed with conditions.


This incident is the latest in a recent string of cases from the latter end of 2022 – which first saw police rescue 30 Christmas shoppers who were left trapped inside another Cheetham Hill premises, and then find 50 shoppers locked inside ‘rat-infested counterfeit shop’ in the same area just a few weeks later.

Harris Street off Bury New Road in Cheetham Hill / Credit: Google Maps

“We’ve heard whispers that the illegitimate shop owners thought Operation Vulcan was just a short-lived operation over Christmas, and that in the new year, all would be forgotten,” Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood said.

“I hope this weeks action will demonstrate that Operation Vulcan is here to stay.

“My team and I will be relentlessly pursuing anyone who decides to commit criminality in this area. The illicit money made from the counterfeit items funds serious organised crime, and we will do everything in our power to strip criminals of their finances and reinvest it back into communities across Manchester.

“This latest seizure will make a dent in finances of the serious organised crime gangs operating in the area, but I’d like to take this time to again emphasise the danger that members of the public are in when they shop here.”


DS Blackwood has previously warned shoppers that they are “at risk”.

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After one of December’s Operation Vulcan raids, DS Blackwood said: “By entering these shops, not only are you putting yourself in danger and at risk of the volatile staff, but you’re funding serious organised crime which is having a devastating impact on the local community.

“These people do not care for your welfare – they’re simply trying to make some quick cash.”

Featured Image – GMP