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Minor sting operations are undercover stings which identify retail establishments that sell to minors. The concept was originally developed for establishments which sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption (package stores, convenience stores and grocery stores). In fiscal year 1995, the concept was expanded to include establishments which sell alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption (bars, clubs and restaurants).
In the past, sting operations found that approximately 35% of the establishments would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. In more recent years the rate has fallen as low as 20%.
When the agency conducts a minor sting and the clerk refuses to sell, the agency notifies the owner or corporation and congratulates the clerk. In some cases the corporation or owner have given the clerk a bonus for their diligence. The agency thoroughly endorses that kind of laudable response. The use of minor sting operations in Texas has been a very valuable tool in addressing underage drinking. Working together with other law enforcement agencies, we have been able to make a concerted effort to curb the availability of alcohol to minors.
If you are 18 years of age or under, and are interested in volunteering in a Minor Sting Operation with TABC watch this video to get a better understanding of what a Minor Sting Operation looks like.
If your child is 18 years of age or under, and is interested in volunteering in a Minor Sting Operation with TABC watch this video to get a better understanding of what a Minor Sting Operation looks like.
A minor sting operation is conducted in the same manner throughout the state. A minor is selected by the TABC or volunteers for the operation. The minors used in stings are generally agency employees' children, civic group volunteers, or recruits from local schools and school groups. Written permission is obtained from the parent before the minor may participate. Minors are in the presence of a certified police officer at all times during the operation.
The minor is instructed to dress appropriately for their age. Minors who are youthful in appearance are used and are generally 16 or 18 years old. Pictures are taken of the minor the day of the sting to attest to the youthfulness of the minor. The local prosecutor determines if the minor will carry identification. If identification is carried, it is the minor's own driver's license or identification card. The minor is instructed not to lie about their age or coerce the sales clerk in any way. If the sales clerk asks any questions, the minor is to be polite and truthful.
The minors may be wired so the transaction is tape recorded. An agent is posted inside to witness the transaction and to maintain the minor's safety. Another agent outside in a vehicle may video tape the transaction or sometimes the minor is carrying a small video camera. If the minor makes a purchase, the beer is immediately given to an agent for evidence.
Premises are usually selected at random. A general area of town is selected and each location in that area is assigned as part of the operation. If a second sting is conducted later in the same area, the agents may decide to only target the establishments which have complaints filed against them or places which are "known" by the minors to sell alcohol.
Licensed establishments whose owners and managers insist that their employees be seller-trained sell less frequently to minors. The agency encourages retailers to participate in seller training. Retailers are also encouraged to make age law and identification checks by clerks a high profile part of company policy. Signs should be prominently displayed that notify customers and serve as a constant reminder to clerks that age will be checked. One useful tool is a daily calendar that shows the date of persons who are of legal age on any given day. For example, a customer at the counter on September 1, 2001 would have to produce identification in which the birth date is not later than September 1, 1980. Clerks who are busy may not take the time to do the arithmetic necessary to check birth dates. Off-premise retailers are also encouraged to use our Cops In Shops and our Project SAVE for retailers programs to get a better grasp of how often minors attempt to purchase at the business. It also helps create a better relationship between the employees and the agents.