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Operation Pop Top: Central Florida Sales Clerks Busted for Illegal Alcohol Sales

In recent weeks, several Central Florida sales clerks have been arrested for illegal alcohol sales and selling alcohol to a minor in the ongoing Operation Pop Top.

The arrests were the latest in the ongoing Operation Pop Top, a campaign carried out by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office designed to ensure stores and clerks are being compliant with state laws that prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.

In one recent bust, a clerk from Smith’s Grocery, located at 829 SR 17N in Lake Hamilton, and a clerk from Center Food Mart, located at 301 Center Street in Dundee, were both charged with Selling Alcohol to a Person Under 21. The stores that refused to sell alcohol to the Explorer were RaceTrac (32866 US 27, Haines City), EZ Foods (20105 US 27, Lake Hamilton), and Shell (207 SR 17, Lake Hamilton). Aiding deputies in each of these checks is a member of the PCSO’s Explorers, a program for high schoolers interested in a career in law enforcement.

In another operation, two sales clerks from two different convenience stores for illegal alcohol sales. The stores where the clerks were arrested were the 7-Eleven at 180 Lakeshore Way in Lake Alfred, and the RaceTrac at 2227 US 92 West in Auburndale. The deputies were aided by a 15-year old member of the PCSO Explorers program. Together, they visited five convenience stores and the child attempted to purchase an alcoholic beverage at each one. Three of the stores refused to sell to the boy, including Marathon (6000 SR 557, Lake Alfred), 7-Eleven (420 Magnolia Ave. in Auburndale), and Circle K (1000 US 92 W in Auburndale).

And recently, a clerk at the 7-Eleven store at 5870 US 98 North in Lakeland, was charged with selling alcohol to a minor, which is a misdemeanor. Police said he was caught selling a 16-ounce can of Coors Light to a 17-year old who is a member of the PCSO’s Explorers. Five other stores that were checked in that operation were in compliance with state alcohol sales laws.

“If you are entrusted with alcohol sales, you must be checking ID’s, and you must refuse to sell to anyone under 21,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “It’s Florida law, and we’re frequently making these checks, to keep children safe.”

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  1. Just curious, what about all these “self checkouts” like at circle K now? During a busy lunch rush or afternoon drive, a teen can grab a can of beer, chips, snacks etc, self scan and self bag. And leave. Correct me if I’m wrong…


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