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17 Clerks Arrested in Illegal Alcohol Sales

A sting operation conducted by Simi Valley police this week resulted in the arrests of 17 clerks at various stores on misdemeanor charges of furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors.

The clerks were arrested after three underage police decoys tried to buy alcohol Wednesday at all 74 grocery stores, liquor stores, bars and gas stations in the city that sell it, said Lt. Dick Thomas. Violators included well-known chain grocery stores and gas stations as well as small independently owned retailers, he said.

Businesses that made the illegal sales face fines and suspension or revocation of their liquor licenses, Thomas said. But penalties are expected to be light because police are more interested in creating awareness than punishing offenders, Thomas said.

“I don’t think we’ve got anybody in our community that intentionally goes out of their way to sell alcohol to minors,” he said.

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Simi Valley police have made similar sweeps for about the last decade. Despite the citations, Thomas said he was pleased that only 22% of retailers with liquor licenses sold alcohol to minors in the city compared to figures as high as 50% elsewhere in the state.

“Frankly, that shows very good compliance in our community,” Thomas said. “Ten years ago when we started it, we were getting somewhere in the 40% to 50% violation range.”

But he warned business owners that police will conduct similar stings again.

“This is just one part of an ongoing program,” he said. “We want the business community to know we’re doing this. We’re not trying to do anything underhanded.”

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