Over the past five weeks, undercover police officers and city agents bought fake designer goods at kiosks in New York’s Chinatown that have long been popular with tourists. They picked up a Prada handbag for $40; a Patek Philippe watch and a Rolex for $80, and two pairs of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for $18. On Tuesday, 32 shops were closed down, a civil lawsuit was filed against the property owner and more than $1 million worth of counterfeit goods were confiscated. Mayor Bloomberg called the operation one of his administration's “biggest takedowns ever.”
Tourists should fear not. Hours later, the Daily News had no trouble buying cheap knockoffs just a block away. One merchant displayed pictures of his bootleg Louis Vuitton bags for sale, and asked detailed questions about what kind of fake Rolex the reporter wanted to buy: “Black or gold? What kind of face? With or without diamonds?” Two women on Canal St. were even more brazen – selling a fake Coach purse for $20 as lookouts stood close by, hissing, “Police, police!” when a squad car rolled past.