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 February 18th, 2009  
Undercover investigation reveals 23 percent of county’s convenience stores sold alcoholic beverages to minors, according to Sheriff Mascara
An undercover operation Feb. 17 showed that nearly one-fourth of St. Lucie County’s convenience stores illegally sold alcoholic beverages to those under 21, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

“We appreciate the 77 percent of stores that complied with the law in our one-night operation,” Sheriff Mascara said, “but 23 percent non-compliance is much too high.”

Teen age volunteers accompanied by adults in plain clothes visited 38 convenience stores the night of Feb. 17, and a youth in each case tried to buy alcohol. In nine cases, the store clerk didn’t request proof of age.

Those clerks received a misdemeanor arrest document and were given a court date to defend themselves against the charge.

“Our School Resource Deputies, with the participation of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, conduct these operations several times a year,” Sheriff Mascara said. “I receive a steady stream of complaints from parents that children can illegally buy alcoholic beverages at convenience stores.”

Non-compliant stores may face disciplinary action from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which licenses the sale of alcohol in Florida.

“Since we began these operations in April of 2004, non-compliance has ranged from a low of 21 percent in February of 2008 to a high of 47 percent non-compliance in October 2004,” Sheriff Mascara said.

Here are the statistics. “Pct non-compliance” is the percentage of stores that allowed under-age alcohol buys and were not complying with state laws.

Attempts: 16
Buys:        7
Pct non-compliance: 44
Attempts: 17
Buys:        8
Pct non-compliance: 47
Attempts:   7
Buys:         3
Pct non-compliance: 43
Attempts: 16
Buys:        6
Pct non-compliance: 38
Attempts: 16
Buys:        3
Pct compliance: 19
Attempts: 40
Buys:        9
Pct non-compliance: 22

Attempts: 42
Buys:       10
Pct non-compliance: 24

Attempts: 24
Buys:        5
Pct non-compliance: 21

Attempts: 17
Buys:        7
Pct non-compliance: 41

Attempts: 38
Buys: 9
Non-compliance: 24

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