New Bern Police Department seeks task force assistance to fight counterfeiting crimes

New Bern Police Department (Todd Wetherington)

The New Bern Police Department is partnering with a state task force to help combat counterfeiting crimes in the area. 

Appearing before the New Bern Board of Aldermen during their November 14 meeting, New Bern Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said over the past six months the NBPD in conjunction with the Craven County Sheriff’s Office has been monitoring activities at several businesses within the city and county involving the sale of counterfeit and trademark protected merchandise.

“This is a very unique criminal event…It’s one of those types of crimes that requires expertise,” Gallagher told the board.

Gallagher said the sheriff’s department has been proactive in establishing a partnership with the NC Anti-Counterfeiting Trademark Task Force to allow their officers to be duly sworn to investigate criminal violations of the state’s Trademark Registration Act. Gallagher said the NBPD has already contacted the NC Department of the Secretary of State to solicit participation in the task force. He said no additional funding would be needed for the partnership. 

“We feel very strongly that the New Bern Police Department needs to be involved in this type of investigative measure,” Gallagher commented. “We have identified staff that would pick up a collateral responsibility to also investigate this type of activity within our city.”

Gallagher said local counterfeiting crimes had become “a very large problem.” As an example, he cited packages “heavily laced with CBD” that are designed to look identical to Oreo cookies.

“A child wouldn’t know the difference…And God forbid you eat one of these things. I don’t know what the impact would be for myself, but I know for a child it probably would not be a pleasant sight,” he commented. “And that’s just one example of many different versions of the counterfeit market out there,”

Gallagher said counterfeiting crimes have become more prevalent in Craven County and other areas due to their high profit margins. He admitted it was often difficult to hold businesses that engage in counterfeiting of trademarked materials accountable for their crimes. 

“The violations associated with this type of activity are tough to prosecute. Our prosecutor is not familiar with this type of activity although they are becoming more aware,” Gallagher noted. “The ability to pull a business license to sell these items is also problematic…Just because someone is convicted once doesn’t mean they’re not going to continually sell this merchandise.” 

The BOA unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the NBPD’s execution of a memorandum of understanding with the NC Anti-Counterfeiting Trademark Task Force. Under the MOU, officers with the task force are allowed to work temporarily with NBPD officers, including in an undercover capacity, and lend equipment and supplies.

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.