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Feds seize dangerous Santa and Frosty lights

December 12, 2011 | 11:36 am

Santa LightU.S. Customs officials said Monday they caught someone trying to import counterfeit and unsafe lighting fixtures of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.

The holiday decorations were seized at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex between Nov. 23 and 25 in two shipments from China and had an estimated retail value of $173,000.

The lighting displays had phony Underwriters Laboratories product safety certification labels and had not undergone the rigorous scrutiny required by the organization. As a result, federal authorities said the displays were potentially dangerous.

Consumers who use the products face potential injury, such as burns or electrical shock, said Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.

The dangers posed by the holiday light shipments were identified by the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington, D.C., as part of a joint operation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ruiz said.

Federal officials said electric items presenting potential safety or security risks represented 19% of all commodities seized by Customs and Border Protection in fiscal year 2010. Those products had a total estimated value of $7.9 million, Ruiz said.


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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Some of the holiday lights seized by federal officials. Credit: Department of Homeland Security