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Friday, August 05, 2005
DVD P Pirates Sunk

Police swoop on Scotland's biggest dodgy discs factory.

SCOTLAND'S biggest pirate DVD and CD racket was sunk in a series of co-ordinated raids yesterday.

Computer gear capable of churning out millions of pounds worth of counterfeit discs was seized.

Phoney discs worth several hundred thousand pounds were also impounded.

Industry watchdogs and police raided addresses across the west of Scotland.

Last night, they were quizzing the man at the centre of the piracy ring - grey-haired John Croy, 58, who walks with a stick

Police swooped on his former council flat in Helensburgh after months of surveillance. They found a mass of hi-tech copying equipment.

Another team hit the Jolly Rodger shop in Argyle Street, Glasgow, where 52-year-old Stephen Reid has been flogging thousands of bogus computer games and CDs.

In a TV interview in February last year, Reid boasted that he would not be stopped and 'could not care less' if he was arrested.

He told a GMTV reporter: 'I like what I'm doing. I know it's illegal. You can go and f*** yourself and stick yourcameraupyoura *** .' Yesterday's raids were mounted after the Daily Record tipped off piracy watchdogs.

Investigators said Croy's tiny flat was the biggest pirate disc factory ever found in a house in Scotland.

It was crammed with at least 12 computers and more than 50 hard drives.

A source said: 'The hard drives are portable and could contain anything from porn to music or computer software.

'You just switch one on depending on what it is you want to copy.'

Eight plain-clothes officers and an investigator from the British Phonographic Industry spent hours collecting evidence.

The BPI's Pat Ferguson said: 'We had information regarding counterfeiting and piracy being manufactured in this house and information was also passed by the Record.

'This has the capability of costing the music, film, games and software industry a massive amount of money running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

'Obviously he has an outlet for this stuff. We also carried out a co-ordinated raid at the Jolly Rodger.

'Every disc and hard drive will be examined and only then will we have a real idea of the scale of the thing.

'But there are tens of thousands of music CDs alone. The loss to the trade is phenomenal

'There was stuff everywhere in the house. I've never seen anything on that scale. It's unbelievable how anyone can live in there.'

Investigators began filling a van with evidence shortly before 7pm.

They had already spent nearly five hours cataloguing their finds. Croy was to be taken for questioning later.

Mr Ferguson added: 'We expect to be here very late into the night.'

It is understood more than 6000 CDs were recovered from the Jolly Rodger. Police also raided a disused shop in Old Dumbarton Road which is thought to have been used as a store.

At the Jolly Rodger, opposite Kelvingrove Art Gallery, cops pulled down the metal shutters and questioned staff and customers.

Meanwhile, a display of CDs from outside the shop was stacked in a huge plastic bag and loaded into a van.

In an hour and a half, police removed 13 plastic bags full of discs, TV sets and a PC from the shop.

Three policemen disappeared inside with a member of staff and a Tradings Standards officer.

Another member of staff paced the pavement talking on his mobile phone as bags of confiscated goods were carried out to the green van.

Shortly after 3pm, a maroon Ford Focus pulled up and a man handed cops a set of keys then sped off.

The raids followed weeks of surveillance by police and the British Phonographic Industry.

They know bootleggers buy master CDs at Glasgow's Barras market. The CDs are then copied in homes turned into makeshift factories.

Croy, who used to be a Navy radioelectrical mechanic, is secretary of the Helensburgh lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a male-only organisation dedicated to 'the pursuit of Brotherhood'.

It meets in a community centre yards from the house in Nursery Street separated dad-of-one Croy shares with girlfriend Sarah Mann

The bespectacled businessman, who has lived in the street for 11 years, drives a black Toyota complete with disabled badge.

Investigators believe he has played a key role in an illegal CD piracy ring for at least two years. Now they are trying to establish links between Croy and the Jolly Rodger shop.

An insider said: 'Croy was under surveillance for sometime. We know he visits the Barras every Saturday from his home. There is a 'well-known' there who supplies master discs.

'A counterfeiter could spend the week copying them in bulk and then supply them to a shop to sell.

'We also had information that someone in the Helensburgh area was supplying a shop in Argyle Street.'

Croy and Reid could be charged under the Copyright and Patents Act and face up to 10 years in jail.

Reid has been raided before and had thousands of CDs seized. Most of his dodgy discs were sold to students at nearby Glasgow University.

His brother Martin Reid, 44, has also worked in the Jolly Rodger.

BPI investigator Pat Ferguson helped co-ordinate yesterday's operation. He said: 'People can claim all the benefits under the sun and make a lot of money on the side.

'If you think a CD costs 11 in the shops and these bootleg master CDs hold 60 albums each, that's a loss to the music industry of 660 a pop.

'People at the Barras who sell this sort of stuff are clearing 20,000 a day


PIRACY in the UK was worth 76.9million last year - up 37 per cent on the previous year.

It is estimated that each year, it costs the Government 1.5billion in tax revenue and 8billion is lost in copyright.

UK piracy, which includes music CDs, computer games, DVDs and business software, results in the loss of 4000 jobs a year.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service say 26 per cent of piracy has a link to organised crime.

From Daily Record

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