A dozen people have been locked in a counterfeit shop in Manchester as police had to break down shutters to get to them.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were alerted to the illegal shop on Moulton Street in Strangeways where members of the public were locked in against their will whilst the shopkeepers ran off with the keys.
Officers detained one of the spotters who had alerted the shop owners before finding a key fob to the shop, but the shutters had been disabled from the inside.
When police broke down the shutters they found 12 people inside including a young child.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and trademark offences. They remain in police custody for questioning.
Inspector Andrew Torkington, one of Operation Vulcan’s specialist officers said: "This was a dangerous and unsettling situation we encountered.
"The owners of the shop had disabled the shutters and locked the customers inside, all in an effort to stop police finding and seizing their counterfeit items.
"Had we not been able to get inside the shop, who knows how long the members of the public would have been stuck inside before the owners braved returning.
"Counterfeiting is a crime, which is why the shop keepers are so desperate to avoid police detection.
"These clothes are of dubious, often dangerous quality, manufactured in filthy and appalling conditions.
"They’re being shipped to the UK where fake logos are applied by staff who are forced to work in exploitative conditions.
"They are then sold across shops in Cheetham Hill, which, as we’ve mentioned before, these buildings are structurally unsafe, littered with rat urine and faeces, and manned by shopkeepers who have weapons stashed.
"Operation Vulcan has been set up to disrupt every level of criminality in this area. We are less than one week into 2023 and this is the second largescale store that we will empty, close, and prosecute those responsible.
"Cheetham Hill and Strangeways will no longer be synonymous with counterfeit goods."