Criminals in Manchester are using self-storage units to stash multi-million pound hoards of fake goods.
Thousands of items of counterfeit clothing, beauty products and electrical goods, among others, have been found hidden away in rented units.
But now the authorities are coming together to clamp down on the practice.
Seven people were arrested after three units were raided in Strangeways in April.
Inside, officers found around 45,000 items of counterfeit worth an estimated £15m.
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The haul included clothing, handbags, make-up, perfume, sunglasses, batteries, electrical goods, headphones and fake brand labels to be sown onto garments.
It comes as trading standards, the self-storage industry and other bodies team up in bid to crack down on criminals.
Some 45 firms have already signed up to a new code of practice, and more than 1,200 self storage facility staff will be given extra training, aimed at stopping the illegal use of storage units.
National Trading Standards chair Lord Toby Harris said: “Trading Standards officers are finding counterfeit goods in, or on route to, self storage facilities.
“By supporting self storage facilities to prevent the storage of illicit goods on their premises, we can help clamp down on the sale of counterfeit goods that continue to deceive consumers and undermine legitimate businesses.”
Intellectual Property Office CEO Tim Moss said: “Unsafe and illicit goods, such as counterfeits, create real social and environmental harms in our communities and criminals have used self storage units as part of their activities.
“Self storage providers signing up to the code of practice will now have absolute confidence they are doing everything possible to deter criminals who target them in this way, while reassuring legitimate customers that their belongings are in safe hands.”
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