POLICE dogs sniffed out 20,000 counterfeit and illegal cigarettes during a raid of a shop on Oxford Road.

YoYo, the cocker spaniel, and handler Stuart Phillips visited European Mini Mart with the objective of finding illegal tobacco on January 31.

During the visit, £5,000 of counterfeit cigarettes were found in fast food delivery cool bags behind the counter in the shop.

Cllr Karen Rowland, lead member for environmental services and community safety, said: “This is a very positive result, with thanks to the council, partner agencies – and last, but not least, Yoyo - to tackle organised criminal activity in Reading and keep our residents safe.

“Detection dogs are highly skilled and can find tobacco and cigarettes hidden in the most unlikely of places.

"Offenders need to know that they can very likely face some quite significant consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.

"Results such as this send a strong message to traders to simply not choose to stock such illegal products.

“Far from being a victimless crime, those involved in the illegal tobacco trade are compliant in making it more attractive for children to start smoking, and taking advantage of cash-strapped families, all of which often feeds into the funding of organised crime.”

This visit was part of a sting operation and initiative called Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative, in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs to tackle illegal tobacco.

Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco that have been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit.

The rest of the shop and related vehicles were checked by Yoyo and Stuart Phillips of B.W.Y Canine. The illegal cigarettes were seized and will be destroyed.