Raids on Hull shops this week found thousands of illegal cigarettes and hundreds of pouches of illegal tobacco – a haul worth £11,000.
The contraband had been cleverly hidden by those selling it, but the hidey-holes were no match for the noses of spaniels Scamp and Yoyo.
The pair discovered ingenious concealments built to hide tobacco, including:
- A fridge with a false top which lifted away to reveal a small store
- A floating shelf with a secret drawer hollowed into the wall behind it. A hidden button was used to open the drawer
- A working wall light which detached to reveal a hollow compartment behind it
- A collapsible cupboard concealing a hollow wall
The Trading Standards team worked with police and WBY K9, who provide the dogs and have significant experience of how tobacco may be hidden. Over two days, premises all around the city were visited and searched. The counting and logging of the seizures is ongoing.
A spokesman involved with the team which seized the illicit tobacco said: “Working with Humberside Police and BWY K9, who supply our detection dogs, we carried out raids on a number of Hull premises suspected of selling illegal tobacco on Monday and Tuesday.
“At a number of those premises we recovered large amounts of illegal cigarettes and tobacco. We are still in the process of counting and logging it all, but are aware the value will be several tens of thousands of pounds.
“With the help of the dogs we uncovered some very creative hiding places: a secret button, operated with a pin, which revealed a large drawer dug into a wall behind a fake floating shelf; a working wall light with a cavity behind it; and a false cabinet, which collapsed to reveal a large store hollowed out of a wall.
“The message is, no matter how well you hide your illicit tobacco, we can and will find it. Legal proceedings are now ongoing at all premises where tobacco was recovered.
“Illicit tobacco prevents people quitting, attracts younger smokers and funds crime. Keep it out of our communities”.
Watch a video of the hunt below.
Shops selling illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously to the Trading Standards team on 01482 300 300, or at www.keepitout.co.uk