In the season of giving, authorities have come up with a way to help the homeless through items they have confiscated: Hand out 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.
The LAPD, working in conjunction with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, plans to distribute sneakers Monday to 1,800 residents at the Union Rescue Mission downtown. Several winter homeless shelters in Culver City, Glendale, downtown and West Los Angeles will also receive shoes.
"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, SB 324, that allows authorities to donate counterfeit goods to groups that help the homeless, provided they get approval from the owner of the trademark, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.
The Union Rescue Mission, which served a traditional steak dinner on Christmas Eve, is scheduled to receive a total of 5,000 pairs of shoes. The other 5,000 pairs will be delivered next month to a shelter partnership and distributed over the course of the year, Mateljan said.
Officials estimate more than $2 billion worth of counterfeit goods are sold every year in Los Angeles. Before the passage of SB 324, the law required that confiscated counterfeit goods be destroyed.