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LAPD to deliver thousands of seized knockoff sneakers to the homeless [Updated]

December 24, 2009 |  1:25 pm

In the season of giving, authorities have come up with a way to help the homeless through items they have confiscated: about 10,000 pairs of counterfeit athletic shoes.

The shoes, which include knockoff Nike and Adidas sneakers minus the labels, were seized for trademark infringement by the Los Angeles Police Department's anti-piracy unit.

Beginning tonight, the LAPD, working in conjunction with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, plans to distribute the sneakers to 1,800 residents at the Union Rescue Mission downtown, as well as at several winter homeless shelters in Culver City, Glendale, downtown and West Los Angeles.

[Updated at 2:33 p.m.: A rescue mission official now says the shoes will be distributed Monday.]

"It's a very timely Christmas present," said Andy Bales, chief executive of the rescue mission. "Shoes and socks are one of the biggest concerns for people who are experiencing homelessness."

The gift was made possible by a new law that allows authorities to donate counterfeit goods to groups that help the homeless, provided they get approval from the owner of the trademark, said city attorney's spokesman Frank Mateljan.  

The LAPD will distribute the shoes beginning tonight at the Union Rescue Mission after the traditional Christmas Eve steak dinner, Bales said. The mission will get a total of 5,000 pairs, and the remainder will be delivered next month to a shelter partnership to be distributed over the course of the year, Mateljan said.

-- Andrew Blankstein