Local News

Sanford Police Bust Clerks, Stores Selling to Minors

Posted December 8, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Sanford Police sent a minor into 35 convenience stores Wednesday as part of a two-month undercover operation to stop underage drinking. More than half of the stores sold the 17-year-old beer and cigarettes.

Authorities began the operation after receiving numerous complaints from high school parents.

"They need to crack down on it, there's no doubt about it. They need to crack down on it," parent Bill Holland says. "And if these people are going to sell it just to make a couple of bucks and get some kid killed, it's not worth it."

Others blame parents for the problem. "It really doesn't surprise me," parent Kim Phillips says. "I think it's a shame. I think parents ought to take a stand and stand up for moral values."

High School students say most underagers know how easy it is to buy beer and tobacco products.

"There's a lot of teenage drinking," high school student Chad Matthews says. "You see a lot of teenage drinking, especially on Friday or Saturday nights."

Holland agrees. "It's always been that way. If the parents don't get involved it's always going to be that way. Some of these kids, they look 21. These stores are going to have to start checking them," Holland says.

"Of the 22 people who actually sold alcohol to him, only one clerk actually checked his ID," Cpt. Dan Kehagias says. "Of the 10 stores that did not sell alcohol, all clerks checked his ID and did not sell it to him."

Investigators say the sting operation should make store clerks and owners realize how seriously authorities take the problem.

There were 22 stores reported to the state; they're expected to be fined. The clerks were cited with selling to a minor, a misdemeanor.

A minor who is caught buying alcohol could be charged with a misdemeanor, and face a fine, probation, or both, depending on the teen's criminal history.