NYC’s Chinatown Sees Return of Luxury Counterfeits, Despite Police Crackdown  - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, February 6, 2023

NYC’s Chinatown Sees Return of Luxury Counterfeits, Despite Police Crackdown 

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By: Benyamin Davidsons

Chinatown’s Canal Street in Lower Manhattan is seeing a bold resurgence in fake luxury good peddlers.

As reported by the NY Post, just three months ago the New York Police Department had launched a full-force sting targeting the knockoff designer goods.  The operation was successful in netting roughly $2 million in pirated Prada and Fendi goods.  Now, however, locals say the street peddlers are back.  “They just have no shame. They just take over the public sidewalk,” said one visitor, referring to the three-block stretch of Broadway, off Canal.  The peddlers allegedly spread their blankets to display a whole array of fake Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Hermes, Chanel and Gucci handbags, wallets, belts, scarves, hats, jewelry and even socks.

Local residents and businesses have started a petition on change.org, which has garnered over 700 signatures, supporting efforts to curb the illegal sales and aggressive panhandling by adding more police in the 1st precinct along Canal Street and the surrounding blocks of Church, Mercer Street, Lispenard Street and Broadway. “All passersby deserve to walk, live, and do business without harassment or aggressive solicitation, especially by those vending illegal counterfeit goods and unlicensed/controlled drugs etc.,” wrote the petition organizer, Raphael A.

“It’s a slap in the face to other businesswomen and men who go by the rules and it’s become very dangerous for pedestrians,” posted Patrick Valentino to the online petition. “I don’t begrudge someone making a living. I do when they do it at the expense of others,” the commenter added.   Another petitioner, Richard Kurtz wrote, “The crowds of people selling bogus stuff is totally oft-putting and illegal and creates human pollution and makes walking on Canal Street intimidating and uncomfortable. The police have been useless in dealing with this problem whch has been a factor in our neighborhood for years”.

In the summer, the city police had taken the canal street peddling seriously, with an NYPD quality-of-life takedown they had dubbed ‘Operation Bag Guys’.  On August 12th, five people were arrested in the crackdown and the NYPD’s Patrol Services Bureau seized roughly $2 million in counterfeit bags, sneakers, watches, sunglasses and other faux goods.  “The money that is raised by the sale of these counterfeit goods, are used to further other crimes throughout the city,” NYPD Deputy Chief Benjamin Gurley had said that Friday at a press conference. “We will go wherever, and whenever, we need to go to stop these kind of crimes and furthering crime throughout our city.”

More recently, however, it seems the NYPD has cooled off, applying a nothing-to-see here attitude in regard to the counterfeit sales on the sidewalks.  Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp., told the Post that the counterfeit comeback on Canal Street is a “cat-and-mouse game.”   He added, “It is deja vu all over.”

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