American Candy store raids seize £574,000 worth of goods

Officers raided American candy stores on Oxford Street on Monday, seizing more than £100,000 worth of goods, taking the total confiscated over half a million pounds.

American Candy Store raid

Westminster Council officers raided three stores on Oxford Street on Monday, seizing more than £100,000 worth of counterfeit and unsafe goods, including vapes, shisha, snus tobacco and Rolexes, taking the total amount confiscated north of half a million pounds.

The proliferation of ‘American Candy Stores’ opening in London has caught the eye of officials, with Westminster City Council ramping up their efforts to combat shady business practices in the city centre, with active investigations into 30 shops on Oxford Street alone. 

In total, Westminster has now seized roughly £574,000 worth of counterfeit and illegal goods from American candy and souvenir stores.

They further allege “that these properties are used to avoid business rate bills and possibly commit other offences” and that the people working in the shops are “trained not to provide any information to Council officers”.

American Candy Store

Though details of Monday’s raid are still only just coming in, the sheer numbers and variety of illegal goods is staggering. The extent of the malpractice discovered extends well beyond just counterfeit candy, and begs the question of how these businesses are financially viable, occupying some of the world’s most expensive commercial property. 

The Westminster City Council have revealed they found £22,000 worth of fake Wonka chocolate bars in one shop alone. On top of the chocolate, 2,838 disposable vapes – containing excessive levels of nicotine or having tank sizes above the permitted level by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency – were seized.

American Candy Store

Just under 500 packets of snus tobacco were taken for having no English warning or safety labels, as were 103 shisha products and 96 phone chargers.

In terms of more luxury goods, a dozen counterfeit Apple and Samsung electronics were seized, as were 25 fake Rolexes. Hoodies and mobile phone cases were among the other fake items found. 

Monday’s raid was part of Westminster’s “ongoing activity regarding sweet and candy stores.”  

“There is a growing problem of candy and poor quality souvenir shops on Oxford Street and in the surrounding West End area,” Westminster Council told whynow.

“We understand that these shops are far from regular and legitimate businesses with very few serving sufficient customers to be commercially viable. Instead, we believe that these properties are used to avoid business rate bills and possibly commit other offences.”

American Candy Store

American Candy Store

For all the recent progress, the council acknowledges that “enforcing against these stores is difficult.” They cite the complex leases, sub leases and licences the businesses have, as well as noting “the individuals occupying the properties on a day-to-day basis are trained not to provide any information to Council officers when we visit the premises.”

Adam Hug, leader of the council said: “This needs to stop and we will be stepping up pressure on landlords to make it clear they are responsible for Oxford Street being overrun with these kinds of stores. The people selling overpriced and often out-of-date sweets are cheating the UK taxpayer and very often swindling their customers into the bargain.”

On top of the counterfeit goods, we understand some shops are also being investigated for a “possible breach of covid-19 opening conditions.”

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