Vape Crimewatch

Posted 11th September 2017 by Mawsley
Whether it’s smuggling, theft or illegally pushing vapes to underage buyers, as the electronic cigarette market has grown so has the amount of crime it’s attracted. Then, once criminals are placed into prison, they face further inconvenience if they used to be a smoker or vaper.

Many have become accustomed to using online Chinese stores for dirt-cheap products, frequently being delivered displaying false valuations on the packet in order to avoid paying tax. It may come as a surprise to discover that China imports nearly all of its supplies of eliquid. Zhou Bin, head of Customs Offices in the Guangdong Province, said: “In recent years, sales of electronic cigarettes have grown by more than 300 percent annually, but supervision of the industry is still weak. Most of the oil sold in China is imported.”

The comment came as he announced a seizure of 600 tons of smuggled liquid to create ecig juice. The haul was worth more than a staggering £34 million, and recovered from four separate groups. Twenty people were detained pending a court appearance.

Albeit a smaller scale, thefts continue to blight the owners of brick and mortar vape stores, regardless of location. Three stores were broken into in the consecutive days in Louisville. It’s something that has begun to plague the UK vape industry too, and owner Troy LeBlanc sums up the feeling: “What's most frustrating is the lack of peace of mind. Now that it has happened you don't know - is it going to happen tomorrow? Is it going to happen the next day?”

Fortunately, the kind of people that seem to feel compelled to rob vape shops aren’t the sharpest knives in the cutlery set. Invariably, they are quickly arrested and then can face time inside. We recently reported that British prisons are experiencing problems with the take-up and supply of specially designed electronic cigarettes. Some American jails are also facing issues due to regional policies on smoking in public areas.

Lately, a number of states rolled out bans on smoking and vaping in public areas – and jails have fallen under that definition. Henderson County Jailer Amy Brady expressed her support for vaping (that she believes works for inmates) and her concern over the possibility the products may be banned.

Criminals often think they can get away with the crime. Really stupid ones get caught and then repeat offend – which goes for Barry Russell Gottlieb, who owns Traders Corner on Mesnes Street, Wigan.

Terry Gregson of Wigan Trading Standards warned traders, in early 2016, that they were being targeted: “We strongly advise shopkeepers to make sure they ask for proof of age from anyone who looks under 25. Businesses should regularly use a refusals register when individuals attempt to buy e-cigarettes in order to record the event.”

Gottlieb didn’t think that applied to him. Trading Standards officials engaged the services of willing 16-yr old volunteer who made a successful purchase in Traders Corner. Gottlieb didn’t attend court and was given a total fine of £800.

Now Gottlieb has been prosecuted and found guilty a second time, for an identical breach. This time around Wigan magistrates have fined him £2,134.