SOUTH BEND It may have been an eerily familiar scene for residents of Howard Street.
Less than four years after police reportedly confiscated 1,950 counterfeit Nike shoes from Howard Street Food Mart, they one-upped themselves Tuesday by seizing more than 2,000 pairs of alleged fake Nikes.
Authorities spent hours at the location Tuesday loading boxes of the shoes into a U-Haul truck. Police also say counterfeit Major League Baseball and National Football League apparel, designer items such as Gucci and Chanel, as well as stolen items were taken from the store at 416 E. Howard St. on the citys near northeast side.
A second location, the Phillips 66 gas station at Ewing Street and Ironwood Drive, also was served a search warrant on Tuesday afternoon. Police say they mainly took synthetic marijuana, drug paraphernalia and some stolen items from that location on the southeast side. No counterfeit goods were found in the gas station, police said.
Paraphernalia and synthetic marijuana also were allegedly found at the Howard Street Food Mart.
Police arrested three people on Tuesday two from the Phillips 66 and one employee of the general store. They were booked into the St. Joseph County Jail. Police have not released their names.
Aside from the counterfeit items, police say the Howard Street business was being used as a location for burglars to sell their stolen items to the store, which would in turn sell them to customers at a discounted rate.
It was a mixture of counterfeit and stolen items, said South Bend police Sgt. Dominic Zultanski, head of the departments burglary unit. Items that could be turned around and sold quickly.
Some of the items recovered including flat-screen TVs, stereos and cell phones may have belonged to Notre Dame students who had been the victims of burglaries in residential homes around the northeast side.
Weve had people tell us they broke into Notre Dame students houses because they have good stuff and this is where they take it, Zultanski said of Howard Street Food Mart.
The Phillips 66, meanwhile, is near an area that saw a spike of residential burglaries over the fall, Zultanski said. It is unknown at this time whether some sort of relationship existed between the two businesses or who exactly owns them.
Zultanski said police received tips from the public about the locations and burglary suspects themselves who reportedly admitted the businesses were places they sold stuff to.
These places always came up since the burglary unit was formed in March, Zultanski said.
People working undercover visited both stores and sold electronics items that they freely admitted were stolen, police said. The property was accepted and, in at least one case, the person working undercover was solicited to bring more items in for sale.
In the case of the Howard Street business, a truck had to be rented to remove all of the illegal material.
Zultanski said representatives from many of the major brands such as MLB, NFL and Nike would be in town to examine the shoes and clothing apparel to see if they are indeed counterfeits.
Zultanski said Tuesdays raid was similar to that of the October raid at Olive Street Convenience Store, which was accused of selling illegal prescription drugs, counterfeit clothing and cigarettes to minors.
During the March 2008 investigation, police also took 1,100 shoes from Shoes N More at 2903 Western Ave.
Zultanski said Howard Street Food Mart has been raided three or four times in total.
The South Bend Police Departments burglary and street crimes units investigated, as well as officers from the Elkhart Police Department, the St. Joseph County Metro Special Operations Section and Indiana State Excise Police. Elkhart officers helped investigate because there were reports that items stolen from Elkhart were being sold at the locations.
Staff writer Tom Moor: