Excise police cracking down on counterfeiters
Shopping this weekend? How can you be sure you're really getting the name brands you're paying for?
Indiana Excise Police, best known for enforcing the state's underage alcohol laws, has another enforcement effort on tap - targeting counterfeit products sold at retail.
The latest bust happened this week at White's Sales Barn in Brookville. Police got a tip some men were selling phony label items out of booths there on Wednesdays. Undercover agents bought some of the items and sent them to a special lab in Illinois for analysis.
Many were counterfeit. Police seized 16,000 items, from athletic shoes to jerseys to name-brand jackets to DVDs.
"Many of the DVDs we're coming across are not even on the shelves for retail purchase yet. They're only available in the movie theaters," says Cpl. Travis Thickstun with Indiana Excise Police.
The 14 men arrested - many foreign nationals living in Cincinnati - are just the tip of the iceberg.
Eyewitness News has already followed customs agents as they hunted down pirated goods at air freight hubs. In the last few weeks, State Excise made four other arrests on 11 felony charges in Indianapolis and Evansville.
This week's bust is generating more tips from the public.
Excise is trying to figure out where the items came from and where the profits went. Pirated products can be a problem. International investigators believe the Madrid train bombing may have been financed by sales of counterfeit goods and may be funding other shadowy groups.
We know the cost to the world economy is half a trillion dollars - money that should have gone to honest businesses.
"Selling counterfeit items cheats legitimate businesses out of income they deserve," said Thickstun.
Mary Kent, a long-time store clerk, knows how to scout out a pirated purse.
"If they're not lined up at the seams, it's not right. Wrong item," she said.
TODAY Show: How to spot fakes online
Totals from this week's raid in Brookville:
DVDs - 6,863
CDs - 6,128
Sunglasses - 983
Shoes - 770
Purses - 761
Clothing - 360
Jerseys - 99
Wallets - 97
Jewelry - 77
Watches - 70
Belts - 57
Hats - 33
Cellphone cases - 32
Beats headphones - 29
Purse badges/tags - 17
TOTAL - 16,376