By Gabriela Resto-Montero and Julie Shapiro
CHINATOWN — Buying a counterfeit handbag in Chinatown could land customers in jail under a new law proposed by City Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
Chin was set to introduce the bill, which would carry a $1,000 fine or a year in jail for buying knockoffs, in the City Council this Thursday.
"It's a very big problem," Chin told the New York Post. "People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand."
Police attempts to stop the sale of counterfeit goods hit an all-time high in 2009, when raids to Canal Street vendors turned stalls that had previously hawked knockoff designer handbags and watches into a "ghost town."
The NYPD would only arrest and ticket buyers caught during a sale, the bill said.
Some downtown residents praised the bill.
"It's a tremendous step in the right direction," said TriBeCa resident Paul Cantor, who's a member of Community Board 1 and the 1st Precinct Community Council.
Cantor said the city needs to start fighting counterfeit goods on the demand side, not just focused on the vendors on the street. He added that in addition to ripping off designer companies, counterfeit goods have also been tied to sweatshops and organized crime.
"It's not a victimless crime, and they shouldn't be buying illegal goods," he said.
Chin said signs posted around counterfeit hotspots would warn visitors of the fines and jail time associated with buying a hot handbag.