A FOUR-LEGGED crime-fighter sniffed out thousands of illegal cigarettes stashed at borough homes and businesses.

Three-year-old sniffer dog Ozzie, used by Dudley Council’s Trading Standards team, helped to find more than 6,100 illegal cigarettes and more than 2kg of illicit tobacco.

The black Labrador, assisted by his canine partners in solving crime - Milo, a spaniel, and Murphy, a fellow black Labrador, visited shops and homes across Dudley, Brierley Hill, Kingswinford and Stourbridge suspected of selling or hoarding unlawful tobacco.

The furry trio sniffed out packets that may have proven impossible to find without their specialist sense of smell, which is tens of thousands of times more sensitive to odours than a human nose.

The haul included counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco products, which cannot be legally sold in the UK. Officers also found counterfeit or illegal alcohol and DVDs.

Staff who led the raids were delighted with the result which they hope sends out a clear message to counterfeit tobacco dealers that they are being watched and, if caught, they will be prosecuted.

Councillor Stuart Turner, Dudley's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “This is an excellent result. Sniffer dogs are trained to find the smallest amount of tobacco products, which is really important, because these products are unregulated and could be far more harmful to people’s health than tobacco or cigarettes alone."

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco is urged to call Dudley’s Trading Standards team on 01384 814600 - a confidential 24-hour voicemail facility.