Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tobacco was allegedly stolen then on-sold from a Wellington factory.
Nine men and two women were arrested following the "large scale" theft of tobacco products from Imperial Tobacco in Petone, Lower Hutt during the past two months, police said. It was thought the tobacco was stolen then on-sold at "cut-price" rates via social media.
Ten Imperial Tobacco employees, including two security guards and an employee's family member, were arrested on Tuesday and charged with tobacco theft worth "several hundred-thousand dollars".
During searches in Hutt Valley and Porirua, large quantities of stolen tobacco as well as $60,000 in cash were found, police said.. A brand new vehicle was also taken by police under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.
"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. "Our enquiries have shown the unlawful and unregulated sale of stolen tobacco is a significant issue in the community and 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."
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