Soil pipe used to dispense dodgy tabs
A crafty shopkeeper used a soil pipe to avoid detection while selling illegal cigarettes.
The shopkeeper kept the cigarettes in a flat above his shop and when a customer would come in he would arrange for them to be dropped down the soil pipe into his premises.
But his scam came to an end after Trading Standards Officers, acting on a tip off, arrived at his shop and discovered the illegal stash in the flat upstairs.
More than 11,000 illegal cigarettes and 21 packets of hand rolled tobacco were seized from the shop in the West End of the city. They will now be destroyed.
Cabinet Member for Regulation, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “The shop where these cigarettes were seized were using a highly innovative form of delivering the cigarettes through a soil pipe from the flat above the shop. This enabled them to supply the cigarettes without keeping them on the premises.
“This of course makes no difference because we already know that shops in other parts of the country have done this and we spotted what was going on.
“Some shops can be very crafty in trying to sell illegal tobacco because the mark-up is so great - but our Trading Standards team is always one step ahead and they will catch you.”
The raid, carried out with the police, is the latest in a series on shops selling illegal tobacco and alcohol in Newcastle.
The cigarettes had a retail value of £6,000 and a street value of £3,000.
In the latest operation, six premises were targeted in the West End and the city centre, following tip-offs from the public.
Trading Standards Manager, David Ellerington, said: “We had seen this practice in other parts of the country.
“In this instance, the tobacco was being dropped down the pipe in an upstairs toilet and they were landing in a toilet on the ground floor. This way the cigarettes were not on the shop premises. It really makes no difference as we still have the powers to seize them.
“I would like to thank the public for giving us information. All tobacco is dangerous to public health but illegal tobacco is particularly nasty and when it has no duty paid on it, it damages legitimate businesses.”
Anyone with information can contact Trading Standards on 0191 2787878.