- Thieves worked out from the footage where the tobacco container was located
- They cut a hole into the container in Carlisle and made off with the entire haul
- Cumbria trading standards were using it to display the fight against contraband
- In the last year more than 70,000 counterfeit cigarettes were seized in Cumbria
Thieves seized a £10,000 haul of illegal tobacco after bungling officials accidentally revealed where they were being stored on a YouTube video.
The closing shot provided thieves with the vital clue they needed to locate the haul inside a shipping container – and steal it.
In the clip, posted on YouTube by Cumbria trading standards, two vehicles in Cumbria fire service livery could be seen.
This was all the thieves needed to locate the stash by a fire station.
Just two weeks after the seizure, they cut a 3ft by 2ft hole in the side of the container and made off with the entire tobacco haul.
A video posted online by Trading Standards bragging about a seizure of £10,000 of illegal tobacco contained clues that may have allowed thieves to steal the haul
At the time, Cumbria trading standards said the seizure had sent out a clear message that illegal tobacco would not be tolerated in the county.
Their video showed bags full of the cigarettes and tobacco in a shipping container awaiting destruction.
HOW THE ILLEGAL CIGARETTE TRADE COSTS UK AT LEAST £2BN
How many illegal cigarettes are in the UK? Border officials in 2015 said that close to 50 million cigarettes are seized each month – but the overall figure is much higher
What do they cost? Illegal packets of cigarettes can cost between £3 and £4 – less than half the price of legal packs
How much revenue is lost? £2.1 billion was lost between 2014-2015 because of illegal tobacco trade
Of the average pack of fags, how much of the price goes to the government in tax and duty? On a typical pack of 20 cigarettes the total tax burden is £6.17 on typical £7.98 pack
It also illustrated how Mollie, a Border collie cross spaniel, could sniff out the illegal substances and was crucial to the success of the operation.
A spokesman for Cumbria Police said: ‘A burglary occurred at Carlisle East Community Fire Station. A container was broken into and cigarettes were stolen. The value of the tobacco is estimated to be in excess of £10,000.’
A Cumbria County Council spokesman added: ‘I can confirm the cigarettes that were stolen were the ones seized during the Trading Standards and police operation just before Christmas. The container is no longer in use for storage of seized goods.’
Operation Ash, a joint operation led by Cumbria County Council’s Trading Standards officers alongside Cumbria Police, saw a trained sniffer dog hunt out more than 1,000 illegal cigarettes from one of four targeted premises in Botchergate.
Intelligence given to Trading Standards suggested some takeaways and shops in the Carlisle street were potentially selling illegally imported or counterfeit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.
Clues: The shipping container on the Carlisle estate that thieves worked out contained £10,000 of illegal tobacco
In the last year more than 70,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 1,600 pouches of hand rolling tobacco have been seized from the streets of Cumbria (file picture)
The operation, on December 14, was deemed to be a success but the haul was lifted sometime between 5.30pm on December 23 and 10.30am on Christmas Eve, sparking a police investigation.
Counterfeit cigarettes are illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright holder.
Trading Standards regularly target illegal tobacco sales across the county.
In the last year more than 70,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 1,600 pouches of hand rolling tobacco from the streets of Cumbria.