Police arrest 3 in undercover operation

By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico Police are sending out a warning: If you're selling alcohol to underage children, don't think you won't get caught. Three people already face criminal charges after an undercover operation this weekend.

"Operation no sale" involves an underage informant. Police use someone at least 18 but not yet 21. That person goes into a store and tries to buy alcohol with his or her actual ID. While this was a police operation, it's something Virginia's ABC stores do regularly.

The philosophy Virginia ABC instills in its employees is simple when it comes to checking ID and not selling alcohol to those under the legal drinking age.

"If there is any question about the validity of the IS then we do encourage them to turn down the sale as opposed to risk selling," said Spokesperson Jennifer Farinholt.

That's because Farinholt says it's more important to the agency to be safe, than to make money. It's a philosophy Henrico Police are testing with any store that sells alcohol.

Police say they see a spike in underage drinking during this time of year when young people celebrate proms and graduations.That's the reason an undercover, underage informant visited eight stores this weekend. The operation led to three arrests.

"They're just not learning. We're going to continue going back to these places. We're going to continue to attempt to buy alcohol and if they keep selling it to them, we're going to keep charging them," said Henrico Police Spokesman Lt. Doug Perry.

Virginia ABC performs employee training so when police arrest store clerks, the agency won't see one its own workers in the court records.

When you're trying to make your purchase, if a clerk thinks you look under 30 they're actually supposed to scan your ID. If you're license is expired, invalid, or you're underage, the register will actually prevent the clerk from ever making the sale.

The agency sends in its own undercover operatives to test both the technology and employees on a regular basis.

"As the agency responsible for enforcing drinking laws, we should be held to a high standard and we take that very seriously," said Farinholt.

Police ask anyone who has information about underage drinking, or a store selling alcohol to minors, to call their hotline at 614-2Y2D. That stands for "too young to drink."

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