DUBAI // About half a million fake designer items have been seized by Dubai Police in the first half of this year.
Commercial areas, such as near the newly reopened Naif souq and the Karama district, are well-known centres for the trade in fake goods.
None of the counterfeit products is produced in the UAE, but police say there is considerable variety and quantity available. Among the items they confiscate are spare car parts and electronic equipment, along with more upscale knockoffs. Aside from products being of inferior quality to the originals, police say some products are dangerous to the buyer's health.
"The most common items are designer bags, watches, sunglasses and pens," said Major Salah bu Se'aba, who heads the police anti-economic crime department. "Although counterfeit make-up and perfume products are less common, they are more dangerous as they could cause serious health implications."
Although someone who buys a counterfeit product is not breaking the law, they are putting themselves under suspicion by being in a place that might be raided by police at any time, authorities said.
To help tackle the problem, the police have created the anti-commercial deception and piracy division. It gathers information on where fake goods are available and places the locations under surveillance.
"We sometime have to watch the place for a long time to find out where they store the items," said Major bu Se'aba. "Instead of raiding the shops, which have some of the items, we raid the storage area."
Officers hide their identity by dressing like the people who shop in the area, said Maj bu Se'aba. They also investigate complaints and tips from security firms hired by companies concerned their goods are being produced in violation of trademark law.
Still, one raid may not be enough to close an operation. More raids may be needed to ensure the illegal activity is not continuing.
"The problem sometimes is that people who have been caught will sell their shop to another owner and disappear for a certain period of time, and the person who buys the shop will continue to sell the counterfeit products," said First Lt Khalid al Muhairi, who heads the anti-commercial deception and piracy division.