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Dogs Bust Illicit DVD Trade

Budding 'Del Boys' need to watch out - specially trained sniffer dogs are being used to detect fake DVDs in a national attempt to defeat a multi-million pound illegal trade.
The fact that the plastics used in DVDs are detectable by the dogs which have been specially trained in Northern Ireland, is a vital part of police action spearheading the fight against the flourishing £200 million trade in pirated films.
Britain now has the world's biggest black market in pirate films after the US, with an estimated 49.5 million counterfeit DVDs sold last year, compared with 32.5 million in 2006, and earning the bootleggers well over £200 million.
Now, the dogs have proved so successful in sniffing out the chemicals used in illicit manufacturing that gangsters have put a $30,000 (£17,000) bounty on their heads.
One of the special team's first operations was in London, in Tower Hamlets in the East End - appropriately where TV's story of dodgy goods, 'Only Fools & Horses' was set, as it is one of the main centres for counterfeit discs.
Dogs are sent in to sniff individual cars and use their snouts across the surface to give it the all clear before moving on the next vehicle.
According to the London Times, within minutes of walking into Whitechapel market, the dogs had led police to a stash of 474 illegal discs.
They were stuffed into plastic-bags beneath a rickety stall strewn with piles of blankets, sheets and pillows.
The dogs are trained to identify finds by staring calmly straight at them, either sitting or standing.
In return, they get a reward of their favourite toy, a tennis-ball, while police make their arrest.
Illegal copies of the cinema's biggest hits are sold for only £4 to £5, compared with £11 to £20 for the genuine article. The latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, was among the haul.
Searching premises could also be transformed by the sniffer dogs.
Although they cannot distinguish between legal and counterfeit discs, they enable large areas to be "scanned" within minutes rather than hours or days.
In the past, most illegal recordings were created in South East Asia (mainly Malaysia, Pakistan and China) before being imported into Britain to be distributed through criminal networks.
Now there has been a shift towards 'homegrown' piracy, discs created in the UK using DVD burners working 24 hours a day.
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