Christmas sting nets 82,000 illegal discs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2006, 12:00am

Twenty-eight shop owners and peddlers were arrested for selling pirated discs - on offer alongside authentic discs - in a series of crackdowns over Christmas.

About 82,000 pirated discs, including 52,000 DVDs of films and TV dramas, 9,000 music CDs and 1,000 other CDs were seized during the eight-day operation that ended on Monday.

The haul included current or recently screened blockbusters such as Curse of the Golden Flower, A Battle of Wits and Superman Returns. Popular local TV entertainment programme Beautiful Cooking and Japanese serial television drama Engine starring idol Takuya Kimura were also seen.

The discs could have been sold on the open market for HK$2 million, customs officers said. They said 23 men and five women aged 22 to 73 were arrested. Five were two-way permit holders from the mainland.

Customs officers said the ploy of mixing fake discs with real ones was a growing trend.

Last year, 184 cases involving shops selling pirated discs alongside authentic versions were recorded. About 455,400 discs were confiscated and 105 people arrested.

This year there have been 226 cases, with about 659,000 discs seized and 198 people arrested.

'A possible reason for the rise is that the economy this year was far better than it was last year and people's buying power was strengthened, which encouraged more people to buy things, including pirate discs,' said Koon Hon-chuen, divisional commander of the customs' copyright investigation division.

He said the influx of solo travellers from the mainland could also be a factor as they might have bought pirate discs in shops without knowing they were illegal copies.