HUNDREDS of counterfeit items destined for Christmas and New Year shoppers have been seized in a series of raids.

More than 400 DVDs of Walt Disney films and large hauls of counterfeit clothing and toys have all been seized by trading standards officers in a series of raids in Weymouth.

Other items have also been swept up in more raids across the county and Dorset trading standards divisional manager Ivan Hancock issued a strong warning to shoppers everywhere to be on their guard.

He said: "We have already used an entry warrant to raid a private house in the Weymouth area where we found a large haul of suspected counterfeit items including toys and clothing.

"Counterfeit toys are something quite unusual to us and among items we seized were counterfeit Dr Who games.

"We have seized large quantities of general items, particularly clothing, in several raids across Dorset while another raid in Weymouth netted us more than 400 counterfeit DVDs of Walt Disney films."

Trading standards begin their operations to cut our counterfeit goods early in the year.

Mr Hancock said: "We really do try to get to businesses which are importing Christmas goods as early as March to try and head trouble off.

"The most impact we can have is with registered importers and manufacturers.

"We visit such businesses all over Dorset as well as other events such as weekly markets because we still have a retail role to play. Suspect items are coming in through so many different places that we have to be on our guard."

Mr Hancock also warned that the problem was no longer dodgy shops or stalls but much more sophisticated operations which were growing in their range.

He said: "More and more we are finding that people are importing things themselves in small quantities and selling them on the Internet.

"Shoppers need to be particularly wary at this time of year where goods are sometimes being sold from unusual outlets such as pubs and restaurants. We would also warn all shoppers boasting that they have bought all their Christmas presents not to drop their guard once the New Year arrives.

"It can be like the Wild West with counterfeit goods rife, and it really is the case that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is."