On Saturday October 16, 2006, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office made three arrests after underage decoys were sold alcohol at three different stores.
The decoys were able to buy alcohol at “Target” and “PW Markets” in Cupertino and at “Safeway” in Saratoga. In each instance the decoys are given clear instructions to not lie about their age and to provide their DMV issued identification card if asked by the clerk. The decoys are instructed to enter the store, select an alcoholic beverage and proceed to the counter to make the purchase.
Three separate clerks were cited for sales of alcohol to a minor. Each of the three clerks will face fines of approximately $2,800 and receive a misdemeanor on their record. The employer will face fines of $3,000-$35,000 and a possible suspension or revocation of their license to sell alcohol.
“I think the entire operation has become a learning experience for everyone” said Youth Cadet organizer Sgt. Dave Cobble. “The retailers are starting to realize they need to remain focused on their jobs and not rely on scanners or automated registers. I say this because the majority of cashiers never read or actually calculate the math when looking at the I.D. They just rely on what the register says.”
The Sheriff’s Office Minor Decoy program has enjoyed great success since being implemented in 1998. The program takes 16-19 year old Sheriff’s Office Youth Cadets and sends them out to various establishments in Santa Clara County in an attempt to purchase alcohol. The local compliance rate is well over 80%. The conviction rate, for those cited, has been 100%.
Nationwide, compliance is at 80% for the Minor Decoy program. Prior to the Minor Decoy program being enacted in 1987, compliance was below 50% nationwide.