SNIFFER dogs have helped to uncover more than £4,000-worth of contraband cigarettes in raids with Sefton Council Trading Standards team.
Illegal tobacco was seized after seven retail premises were visited in Southport, Litherland and Bootle by Trading Standards.
The two black Labradors, Murphy and Ozzie, were provided by Wagtail UK Ltd and help detect concealed stashes of tobacco at the four premises which were raided.
Sefton Council Trading Standards manager, Andrew Naisbitt, said: “Traders often conceal illegal tobacco in unusual places and following this round of raids items were discovered in children’s lunchboxes.
“This just shows the lengths people will go to in order to store contraband items, but by working with the highly trained tobacco dogs, this means there are no longer any hiding places for them.”
The raids are only the second time sniffer dogs have been used, but they are already proving invaluable to the team.
Cllr Trish Hardy, cabinet member for communities and the environment, said: “This is the second time we have used the sniffer dogs and yet again it proved to be a huge success.
“We will also take action against anybody who chooses to trade in illegal tobacco to protect legitimate traders and help our public health partners in reducing the numbers of people who smoke.”
No arrests have been made, but investigations are ongoing into where the illegal tobacco came from.
Anyone with information regarding the sale of illegal tobacco should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.