Police crackdown on illegal street vendors in West Philadelphia


On Wednesday Philadelphia police and federal agents swarmed in to round up illegal vendors, allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise.

Police say the vendors were selling counterfeit designer merchandise with labels like, Ray Ban, Prada and Gucci. $200 sunglasses for just $5 to $10.

Police say most of the phony goods arrive from China by the container load, and then end up here on vendor tables.

"Much of it comes down here from the New York area and upper Jersey, that port area up there," said Sergeant Joe Cella of the Philadelphia Police Major Crimes Unit.

Only Action News was there as police rounded up four vendors. They scattered as soon as undercover officers showed up Wednesday morning.

"They run down the street, duck into a store and abandon their vehicles. Two of the three vehicles here were abandoned. They were apprehended nearby," said Philadelphia Police Officer Gary Deblasis.

Police say each of the trucks left behind by the vendors was packed with what would have been $150,000 worth of merchandise had it been the real deal.

The phony stuff hurts the legitimate manufacturers and their employees. And it also hurts this retail corridor.

The city is spending millions of dollars revitalizing 'The Strip,' as 52nd Street is known.

It's tough to attract merchants to rent and maintain stores when they're being undercut by the vendors out front.

"Very difficult to do when we're trying to entice people to invest in the bricks and mortar here, to renovate and really make this a beautiful marketplace for the community," said Cella.

Philadelphia Police and federal agents were involved in Wednesday's raid. They say the suspects will be prosecuted in federal court, where they face the potential of much stiffer sentences.

And buyer beware. They say they may soon start arresting people who buy what these guys are selling.

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