A sniffer dog from West Sussex has help police uncover nearly 5000 packs of dangerous, illegal tobacco.
Cooper worked with officers from West Sussex Trading Standards Service to find the illegal haul at a site in Worthing.
The talented dog discovered the tobacco during a raid with Trading Standards Officers in December 2020.
He found 4,600 packets of tobacco in the premises and alerted officers that a safe in the building contained more illicit tobacco. The owner of the premises denied having the keys to open it.
Unable to open the safe without the key, Trading Standards officers seized the safe and later sought the help of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (WSFRS) who used specialist equipment to open it up.
The safe contained 209 packets of fake cigarettes and 56 pouches of illicit tobacco. All have been seized by Trading Standards officers and sent for testing.
Fake tobacco and cigarettes come with more health risks and often do not self-extinguish, which can cause fires.
West Sussex Trading Standards Service is continuing to investigate this incident.
Fake tobacco and cigarettes are often much cheaper than legitimate products, making them an attractive option for younger people and therefore encouraging them to start smoking. They also come with many health risks and the fact that they often do not self-extinguish makes them particularly dangerous.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: "Sniffer dogs like Cooper play an absolutely vital role in uncovering fake, illegal tobacco and cigarettes. Without Cooper's help, Trading Standards officers would never have known it contained so many packs of dangerous tobacco and cigarettes.
"I would also like to say a big thank you to the firefighters from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service who were able to open the safe using specialist equipment. Their skills and help meant we could gain access to the safe without the key. This was an excellent example of partnership working and the involvement of WSFRS will undoubtedly help bring these sellers of fake tobacco and cigarettes to justice.
"Our criminal investigation into this matter continues."