In conjunction with other agencies, the Summit County Sheriff's Office made 16 adult minor (under 21 years old, over 18) arrests and 19 juvenile referrals after an underage party was discovered on Saturday after an attempted retail theft in Park City.
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said the case began when several juveniles and young adults attempted to steal four to five cases of beer from a Park City business. An employee was able to stop the theft, as the individuals dropped the beer and ran to their vehicle. The employee also got the license plate of the suspects' vehicle.
"When [the employee] was able to get a good license, we were able to track these kids down to a house in the county," Edmunds said, adding that it was in the Trailside area. "At that point, it was clear there was a large underage drinking party."
A Summit County Sheriff's Deputy responded to the residence with assistance from Utah Highway Patrol, Park City Police and the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office. Several juveniles fled from the deputy, and two were apprehended who were under the influence of alcohol, according to a Sheriff's Office report.
Once a deputy obtained an e-warrant to search the residence, the suspects were detained for various violations, including possession of alcohol, marijuana, hashish and drug paraphernalia. The host of the party was found to have a forged Florida driver license and the house belonged to the parents of one of the young adults.
Edmunds said incidents like this are "pretty common" but stressed they could be potentially dangerous both for members of the community and juveniles themselves.
"The number of DUI fatalities in this county has gone up. The number of kids seriously injured consuming alcohol has gone up," Edmunds said. "We have a stewardship over these kids to make sure we're protecting them, often from themselves."
Adults often do not make wise decisions with alcohol, Edmunds said, which is all the more reason why minors "just need to stay away" from alcohol.
"We feel very strongly about trying to mitigate [underage drinking]," Edmunds said. "We're all over the place."