Potentially hazardous lighters seized by officers in Norwich

Potentially-dangerous cigarette lighters have been seized in raids in Norwich.

Trading Standards officers were stunned by the discovery of a large batch of the giant lighters at two stores in the city.

The find came after a co-ordinated raid with the Border Agency on the general stores yesterday morning, and comes after a 17-year-old received serious burns to his hands from a similar device.

It has also led to a warning from the organisation that the lighters, which carry twice the permitted lighter fluid amount and had to be carried by officers in a military container for safety's sake, could be dangerous for anyone else tempted to buy them.

Ann Jackson is a senior trading standards officer based in Norwich and said she had not seen their kind before.

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She said that the team had been alerted to the issue after Hampshire teenager Todd Howard was left with severely blistered hands and requiring emergency hospital treatment after trying to light a candle earlier this summer.

'It was something they weren't expecting to find but they were well clued up about it,' she said, 'so when they found it they used their powers to seize the lighters for testing.'

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The operation was carried out on the two shops, owned by the same person, at around 11am yesterday, with the 35 lighters found split between the stores.

However, it was after putting the devices into plastic carrier bags that the two officers faced their next challenge – transporting them away.

It is illegal for the officers to carry such a quantity of fuel without sufficient protection, which led to some imporvisation – they visited a nearby army surplus store.

Sales assistant Andrew Boddy said: 'When they came in it was a bit of a surprise, but they quickly explained what they were there for.'

He suggested a long metal casing designed for mortar rounds, in which the lighters were carried away to be tested in Suffolk.

Mrs Jackson said that Trading Standards would continue to keep a vigilant eye out for the devices, which are being found in increasing numbers and are believed to have been imported in from outside the UK.

Contact Trading Standards if you see anything similar which could be dangerous, on 08454040506.

What do you think? Email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk or write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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