9 Aug 2016

Tobacco theft accused appear in court

2:41 pm on 9 August 2016

Ten people accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tobacco from a Petone factory appeared in court today.

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The 10 people arrested are accused of on-selling the tobacco at cut-price rates through social media (file). Photo: 123RF

An operation by the police and Imperial Tobacco led to the group of employees, including two security guards, being arrested.

A family member of one of the employees was also arrested.

Police said they believed the stolen tobacco was sold through social media at a cut-price rate.

As well as the hoard of tobacco, officers had found more than $60,000 in cash during searches in the Hutt Valley and Porirua.

A brand-new car was also found during the searches and had been confiscated, they said.

"This alleged offending was of a significant scale and we have worked closely with the management at Imperial Tobacco over recent weeks to identify, investigate and close down the groups responsible," Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said.

Unlawful and unregulated sales of tobacco were a significant issue in the community, he said.

"Police want to warn those who purchase stolen or cut-price tobacco that they may be committing a criminal offence and are liable for prosecution if identified."

Eight of the people arrested were remanded on bail until September, with conditions that included surrendering their passports.

The other two were stood down to re-appear in Lower Hutt District Court later this month.