Phila. Police raid counterfeit street vendors
PHILADELPHIA - June 14, 2012 (WPVI) -- Three men are in custody after Philadelphia Police raid street vendors selling counterfeit goods.
Police had the goods and decided to make their move at 48th and Market Streets in West Philadelphia.
They converged on a series of street stands, selling a variety of what they had already deemed to be bogus goods.
Undercover officers had purchased some of the items earlier to check and see if the products are counterfeit.
Sometimes, they say, it was too easy.
"Gucci is only sold in Gucci Stores or in department stores," said Investigator Stuart Drobny.
Police arrested three vendors who are all from West Africa.
U.S. Homeland Security was also involved, because investigators say the goods are smuggled from overseas, and sometimes a portion of the profits is sent back to other countries.
When police arrived for the raid, they happened to spot what they say is the supply van. It was filled with counterfeit Nikes, counterfeit Timberlands, and counterfeit purses. Many times customers don't realize they are fakes.
"If you look at the stitching, it comes right out," said Sgt. Joseph Cella. "That wouldn't happen in a Nike. It is not even glued in, it's not even secure."
Forman Mills, which is located on the same block, first notified police of the sidewalk setup. Legitimate stores like theirs lose business to counterfeit operations.
"I want real things," said Charles Graham. "I don't want phony stuff. I want real. I mean Polo, Nikes; I want real stuff."
"When you buy things on the street buyer beware. You are not going to get what you are paying for," said Drobny.
Police are also checking to see if the vendors have permits to be selling on the street in the first place.
A fourth man who was driving the supply truck managed to slip away.
west philadelphia, philadelphia, local/state, matt o'donnell
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