Fake-purse sellers bagged


By Jefferson Siegel

On Friday afternoon, Sept. 14, at 2:45 p.m., three police officers from the Fifth Precinct in a white, unmarked van stopped in front of 218 Centre St., just south of Grand St. They did not enter the ground-level health-food store, but descended a flight of stairs to a metal basement door and entered.

Several minutes later, two young women came up the stairs giggling and carrying bags of merchadise. They declined to give their names but said the police were placing the workers in the store under arrest for selling counterfeit handbags. The two women, who appeared to be tourists, said the police told them to leave.

A bit later, the officers led a man and woman, both Asian, up the steps in handcuffs and into the unmarked van.

It is common to hear people on the streets of Chinatown say, “Bags, bags” to passersby. Potential buyers are led to underground stores, some connected by tunnels, where they can buy knockoff handbags and other counterfeit goods.