There is a daily battle played out on the seafront at Torrevieja between the sellers of counterfeit goods and the local police. The sellers, who are mostly of African origin, watch out all the time for signs of the police. They hurriedly shut up shop and run anytime they think the police might be near. The police, for their part, organise plain clothes raids and enjoy some success in capturing both sellers and goods.
The same thing happens at Guardamar where we ate on the seafront the other week. As the evening strollers came out for a walk, the sellers began to set up their stalls laying out fake Lacoste polo shirts and fake Chanel sunglasses. Within minutes of preparing their stalls, they spotted the high visibility vests of two police officers and quickly moved away only to return five minutes later when they thought the coast was clear. The police returned again and the sellers fled: this cat and mouse tactic went on all the time we were there. There was barely a five minute slot when the sellers could have done any business.
It is easy to feel sorry for these traders after all we seem them coming over in overloaded boats brought here on the pretext that they will have good jobs and money once in Spain. They end up living in cramped conditions, working hard to support a meagre existence, ever fearful of being caught by the police. loosing their goods and being sent back to their country of origin.
However, we need to remember that they are mostly here without proper papers and are selling counterfeit goods. The police have a duty to control them and confiscate the goods whenever they can. The articles they sell are produced in sweat shops by underpaid, often under aged children, they come with no guarantee and undermine not only the sales but the reputations of the companies that produce the genuine articles.
If you had spent millions producing your latest blockbuster film on DVD, the last thing you want is someone selling it for a fraction of the price at no profit to you.
I know that it is a great temptation to buy what appear to be Gucci sunglasses at a ridiculous price but it is wrong! My daughter brought me an imitation Breitling watch back from Hong Kong, it wasn’t cheap! Within a few weeks, it stopped keeping proper time. It might look expensive on my wrist but if it doesn’t tell the time then it is pointless.
The police in Torrevieja are now handing out leaflets in Spanish and English warning people not to buy counterfeit goods. I reckon their battle to convince the buyers will be as difficult if not more difficult than the one they wage against the sellers. Whilst ever there are customers prepared to save a few Euros on a fake, there will be Africans lining up to sell them.