At least 50 people have been rescued from a rat-infested store selling knockoff designer clothing in Manchester’s Counterfeit Street. Manchester Evening News reported that they were forcibly kept inside the store, with some being stranded on the ground floor without a way out. The police came to their rescue on Sunday during a routine patrol after noticing a suspicious-looking individual attempting to close the building’s shutters.
The customers fled when the police opened the shutter. A 60-year-old man was later apprehended by the police in connection with the incident, the report added. More customers were found inside three rooms on the second and third floor. They’d been locked in against their will when the man had spotted the police.
During a search of the property, it was discovered that there was an excess amount of rat urine and feces everywhere on the premises, including on the shelves and all over the apparel, underwear, and cosmetics that were for sale in the shop. “Officers discovered incredibly dangerous infrastructure and signs of exploitative labour, including an underground homemade air conditioning system the staff had made by drilling holes into the pipes on the ceiling,” Manchester Evening News quoted a police officer.
The cops seized 20 tonnes of fake designer clothing, shoes, perfumes and make-up from the building.
Reportedly, the condition of the floor was so pathetic that officers could not even see the floor for boxes and bags full of items that would be sold. “The state of this building was disgusting and so structurally unsafe. My team found members of the public trapped on the top floor with no means of escape,” Metro quoted detective superintendent Neil Blackwood as saying.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had to rescue members of the public from these buildings, but I urge people to think twice about entering these shops,” he further said.
“By entering these shops, not only you are putting yourself in danger and at risk of the volatile staff, but you’re funding serious organised crime which is having a devastating impact on the local community. These people do not care for your welfare; they’re simply trying to make some quick cash,” he added.