Bargain booze hunters in Blackpool who think they’ve snapped up half price bottles of Scotch and vodka are getting home to discover they’ve coughed up for something a bit weaker... cold tea or lukewarm water.
Street gangs running the scam on the Promenade and around the major pub and club areas of the resort break into the backyards and dustbin areas of legitimate pubs and steal the empties.
They then refill them with water or tea before glueing the caps back on and selling them on the street.
One of the bars which has been targeted, Ma Kelly’s in Talbot Road, has even been forced to erect warning posters saying: “Please do not purchase any bottles of fake alcohol from road sellers.”
Assistant manager Ryan Armstrong, 23, said: “They come in the back and take the empties then just fill them up and sell the bottles of water or cold tea on the street for a tenner a time.
“It’s mad people would buy alcohol on the street really but I suppose they think they are getting a bargain.”
He added police had advised bottles should be smashed before binning them.
But Ryan added: “They’re commercial bottles and very thick glass, they’re very hard to break and I actually slashed my finger trying to break one.”
Down the road in Molloys barman Alan Buckley caught one of the conmen red handed.
He said: “He had the front to come into the pub to use our toilets to fill up a vodka bottle with water. Obviously we turfed him out.”
He added while vodka and Scotch were the usual choice of the gangs they were not adverse to branching out to more sophisticated tipples.
He said: “One guy was filling up this bottle with a mix of cola and water and trying to pass it off as Disaronno liqueur.”
Ma Kelly’s regular Charlie Cronshaw said: “These people give Blackpool a bad name, they have no class. ”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police strongly advised members of the public from buying booze from street traders.
She added: “When something sounds too good to be true it usually is and we would strongly advise against buying on the street.
“Aside from the obvious health issues it’s pretty obvious there is something dodgy about someone selling half price spirits on the streets of Blackpool.
“Anyone buying them might think they are getting a bargain until they get home and settle down to a cold tea on the rocks.”