Underage alcohol sting nets one Park City business | ParkRecord.com

Underage alcohol sting nets one Park City business

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Police Department conducted a sting last week, catching one store selling alcohol to someone who is not old enough to buy.

The police conduct similar stings on a quarterly basis, and the one last week targeted approximately 10 businesses that sell alcohol, primarily beer since hard liquor is only sold in bottles in state liquor stores.

The Police Department did not release the name of the store that was caught. Phil Kirk, a police captain, said the police issued the store a citation.

The police sent an 18-year-old into the stores trying to purchase the alcohol. The department acknowledged the operation in its daily incident report. The sting occurred in the evening of June 22, primarily between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. A person must be at least 21 years old to buy alcohol in Utah.

According to the incident report, the 18-year-old went into stores on streets like Prospector Avenue, Bonanza Drive, Park Avenue and Iron Horse Drive.

"We were, I guess, pleased with the results. We’d have preferred 100 percent compliance," Kirk said.

The Police Department conducts similar stings in places that sell tobacco products.

One of the places targeted in last week’s operation was Park City Market, where the cashiers did not sell alcohol to the 18-year-old. The owner of the market, one of two grocery stores inside the Park City limits, said the cashiers are trained not to sell alcohol to people under the age limit.

Mike Holm, the owner, said cashiers would be fired if they are caught selling alcohol to someone who has not yet reached the age of 18, calling the consequences "real severe."

The police sent the 18-year-old into Park City Market at 9:22 p.m. on June 22, with police logs not providing details other than the store did not sell to the teen. Park City Market only sells beer.

Holm said state liquor officials could punish the store by revoking its license to sell alcohol if underage people are buying there. He said he requires cashiers request identification from people who appear to be under 30 years old.

Holm did not have knowledge of last week’s sting.

"It’s very important. It’s the first thing on their list," Holm said about his requirement that cashiers ask for identification, adding, "Be careful of underage sales."

The Police Department in 2009 arrested 56 people on charges of violating liquor laws, according to the department’s annual crime report. Each of the people arrested was an adult. The report does not provide details about the nature of the arrests.

The last time the police arrested a juvenile on charges related to liquor laws was in 2006, the annual crime reports show. That year 40 juveniles faced some sort of charges related to liquor laws, with 29 of them being males, according to the crime report that covered 2006.

The daily Police Department incident reports only occasionally indicate that clerks have been accused of selling to people who are not yet 21 years old.