Dog has £25,000 bounty put on head after sniffing out millions of pounds worth of illegal tobacco
- Credit: Archant
A dog which has been responsible for helping police seize more than 1m illegal cigarettes has had a bounty of £25,000 put on its head.
Seven-year-old springer spaniel Scamp is the target of criminals having sniffed out £6m-worth of illegal tobacco in just five years across the UK.
He has assisted Norfolk County Council trading standards in a number of operations in Norwich, King's Lynn, Thetford and Great Yarmouth.
And now gangs will issue the cash prize to anyone who captures Scamp, according to police.
It comes after a number of court cases in Great Yarmouth, Birmingham, Sussex, Northampton and Newcastle.
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Owner Stuart Phillips, from Wales, has described his dog as a 'big catch' for criminals.
The 40-year-old was warned by police about the bounty last year.
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'We have had to be a bit quieter about the work we have done since we were told about the threat criminals have made,' he said.
'I am not really shocked because it is part of the job Scamp does and a lot of money is involved.'
Mr Phillips, of B.W.Y Canine Ltd, has specially trained his lovable springer spaniel and several other dogs to sniff out tobacco and other drugs.
He said it takes six months to train dogs - rewarding the canines with toys once they recognise the scent of tobacco.
Specially trained detection dogs have helped to seize 1.5m cigarettes and 886kg of hand rolling tobacco in Norfolk since 2016.
Scamp has helped to track down the substance which has been hidden in cars, behind false panels, tiled walls and in the floor.
A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council trading standards said: 'Scamp is very enthusiastic about his job and he has had some fantastic finds while helping us protect communities in Norfolk.
'Without help from dogs like Scamp it can be difficult for us to find tobacco when sophisticated concealments are used.'
Mr Phillips who also trains Yoyo - another specialist detection dog - claims the dream team's workload has increased over the last year as their reputation has grown.
He said: 'It really is quite exciting. We are being contacted by police forces across the country because illegal tobacco does seem to be becoming much more of a problem.
'I am just glad we are able to help to bring people to justice.'
The 40-year-old admitted he has been involved in a few 'tricky situations' but said he was more concerned about Scamp's safety.