PATONG: Authorities confiscated nearly 10,000 counterfeit items with a street value in excess of 15 million baht from two shophouses on Monday afternoon in what one private investigator said was the largest-ever seizure of fake watches in Thailand. Armed with a search warrant, Pol Lt Col Arthit Panphitpat, Deputy Commander of Phuket Provincial Pollice and Kathu district police officers raided two Patong Beach shophouses shortly after 1 p.m. and seized thousands of imitation brand name watches, video CDs and mobile phone batteries. Inside the first shophouse, located at 97/12 Soi Patong Resort, authorities found 121 counterfeit watches and apprehended a 27-year-old suspect, identified by Kathu police as Nattapol Namburee. He was later charged with violations of the Trademark Act of 1991. Nattapol was released the next day on bail of 400,000 baht, police said. A short time later, police descended on another of Nattapol’s shophouse operations at 104/3 Soi Post Office. A ‘mother lode’ of 9,358 fake brand-name and designer-label watches were confiscated, along with 90 pirated video CDs and 95 counterfeit mobile phone battery units. The seizure of 9,479 fake watches from the Patong raids was the largest-ever in Thailand, said Maxmilian Wechsler of Selective Swiss Watch Services, a Bangkok firm which represents well-known watchmakers. Among the knock-off brand-name and designer-label timepieces confiscated were 2,575 “Rolex” watches, 1,690 “Gucci” watches, and 1,680 “Cartier” watches. “This is a big loss for the sellers,” Wechsler told the Gazette yesterday at the Kathu district police station. He said the counterfeit watches, most of which originated from China, were destined for street stalls and unauthorized shops on the island. He estimated the total value of the inventory seized at three million baht – goods that could fetch in excess of fifteen million baht from shoppers.
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