By Keith Nicol
TORREVIEJA’S ‘Looky-Looky’ men were once again the target for the Local Police on Monday.
This task force has been assigned to tackle the growing number of counterfeit goods on sale in tourist areas.
In similar fashion to the raid from two weeks ago, when tempers ran high on the waterfront area, the Guardia Civil were once again called in to calm the situation resulting in them detaining five people suspected of assaulting law enforcement officers. The incident occurred about 1pm on Torrevieja’s Juan Aparicio promenade when a patrol conducting surveillance proceeded to identify themselves to a group of Senegalese who were offering goods for sale. According to the police, much excitement ensued, resulting in the pushing and shoving the agents and apparently two pedestrians also stepped in to try and calm the situation and help defend the officers. After arresting the assailants, two other Senegalese citizens then began to “rebuke and attack the officers,” according to the police report.
The detainees were taken back to the Guardia Civil barracks in Torrevieja, to await an appearance in court. News of the arrests soon spread among the Senegalese community and friends and family, numbering about 80 in total, made their way to the front of the courthouse where they blocked the street by staging a peaceful, sit-down protest. The Guardia Civil called for back-up, but this was not required.
The new Local Police Unit, tasked with taking counterfeit goods off the streets of Torrevieja have constantly been at odds with the Senegalese community, who seem to the main protagonists when it comes to offering ‘trademark’ items for sale. These include such brands as Gucci, Rolex, Tag, D&G, Ray Ban and Polo. While these luxury goods manufacturers would claim that they are losing hundreds of thousands of euros on sales due to this illegal copying, since Ray Bans sell for €6 to €10 for example, the reality of the situation is that some tourists are quite happy to spend less than €10 on an impulse buy on a fun item, but less likely to drop €100-plus on the real thing! Thus the actual loss to the Trademark holders is minimal, next to nothing, as those purchasing these items are well aware that they’re not the real thing.
However, local shop owners quite rightly complain that the money spent on these illegal items on the seafront is potential revenue that they lose out on. Local traders have to pay licences, rent, electricity, staff, taxes, IVA and other fees before they turn any profit at all! Those setting up a temporary illegal shop on a blanket, on the waterfront do not have any of these overheads to worry about! Thus the legal shops say they cannot compete with this temporary and constantly moving sales force.
Meanwhile the Senegalese say that they are only trying to make a living and that they are being singled out and victimised by the security forces. On Monday evening they were already peddling on the Waterfront as if nothing had happened. It remains to be seen what verdict or punishment the judge will hand down in this case, which is for the more serious case of assault and not the much lesser crime of selling counterfeit goods.