threads bust: the rest of the story

Brent Finnegan -- February 1st, 2007

If you read the story in today’s DNR about the raid at Threads in the Valley Mall, you already know that the HPD seized an estimated $52k worth of counterfeit brand-name clothing from the store, and that the HPD is taking “a class on property crimes and trademark infringement.”

What you probably don’t know is that that Blazer Investigative & Security Consultants, who conducted the class, “represents the proprietary interests of over 60 manufacturers,” (i.e. private corporations that want police departments to protect the Nike swash, and other such logos). It would seem that these corporations, instead of suing Threads and other stores that retail impostor apparel, are offering the class as a way to cut down on legal fees, and let local police departments and criminal courts absorb the cost for these cases.

Also, the affiant on the search warrant is currently assigned to gang investigations. As you may recall, I have some reservations about the “gang issue” in the Valley, and I have to wonder why the CHARGE gang unit is involved in this case.

Anyway, I have a few questions that maybe a police officer, prosecutor, or lawyer can explain to me: What does trademark infringement have to do with gang activity? And more importantly; why should Harrisonburg tax dollars be spent to do the bidding of huge corporations like Nike, who manufacture their products in Chinese sweatshops and report profits of $301.1 million? Isn’t copyright infringement a matter of civil law, not criminal law?

I would love some answers here, but don’t really expect any.


9 Responses to “threads bust: the rest of the story”

  1. Reaganite says:

    Maybe the gang problem has been resolved? This raises a few questions that someone in goverment should be asking and/or answering:

    Was federal gang-grant money used to pay for officers’ attendance at the Blazer seminar? If so, is that allowed according to the restrictions placed on local departments by the granting federal agency?

    Did the CHARGE Gang Task Force wear their fashionable new jackets to the seminar? For those who haven’t seen them, they are quite cool (are they made of Gortex?). Did the gang-grant pay for those jackets? Is that allowed according to the restrictions of the grant?

    Was the salary of the officers involved in the execution of the search warrant paid by gang-grant monies? Is that allowed according to the restrictions of the grant?

    Just who in authority even monitors how our receiving law enforcement agencies spend the gang-grant money? Where and when can the public see how its tax dollars were spent? This would be a good question for the “gun prosecutor” grant and the late, lamented “Weed and Seed prosecutor” position. Are we getting value for our money?

    Who suggested that CHARGE target “Threads”? Is the task force going to hit Wal-Mart and Target next or will they only be looking at small, urban-oriented stores?

    Just wondering.

  2. finnegan says:

    Kurt’s a good guy, but somehow I can’t see the HPD responding to the CHARGE questions on this blog.

    If I want impostor apparel, I go to New York City any time of the year. If you go to midtown Manhattan, you see designer impostor stuff for sale on every street corner. Who cares? designer stuff is grossly overpriced. So is the major league sports apparel in the Valley Mall, for that matter. If it wasn’t so overpriced, there wouldn’t be a market for the fake stuff in the first place.

  3. JGFitzgerald says:

    The mention of impostor duds in NYC reminded me of a Lawrence Block story in his collection “Enough Rope.” Block’s detective, Matt Scudder, is hired by a representative of a media corporation to spend several days, along with other hired guns, busting street vendors selling items infringing on the Batman trademark. By the end of the story, “Batman’s Helpers,” Scudder has done the math and concluded that the corporation could have bought the stuff on the street cheaper than hiring the detectives.

  4. cook says:

    “What does trademark infringement have to do with gang activity?”

    Gang members wear colorfully significant clothes while committing gang crimes?

  5. KnowsAll says:

    My spouse and I were discussing this topic along the very same lines Mr. Finnegan. With money for public safety so short, and real issues of crime that threaten our local community, why is the money that people here work so very hard to earn and then pay in taxes to support community safety being used to deal with what should be a civil matter?
    How has Nike helped this area? Let them take the offenders to court at corporate expense. How is this my problem?

  6. finnegan says:

    Yes, I would really like some answers on this issue.

    When Nike loses a few thousand, I don’t shed any tears.

    I’ll be watching the news to see if this happens again. If so, you can expect me to post about it again.

  7. doubletree dan says:

    Why don’t you contact NIKE and find out from the horses mouth?

    Good Luck

  8. finnegan says:

    WHSV ran this story about a similar bust in Richmond.

    I wonder if Blazer Investigative & Security Consultants or Richmond’s gang unit was involved.

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