Three Chinese restaurants in Millbrae received citations last Friday for serving alcohol to minors as part of an undercover operation that used 18-year old police decoys, according to the Millbrae Police Department.

Chu Kong Chinese Restaurant, Sugia Restaurant, and Fook Yuen, all on El Camino Real, were the three, of nine establishments visited, who were busted in the sting. They will get a first time citation of either a five day suspension on their liquor licenses or a fine that approximates five days of liquor sales. The employee responsible for selling the alcohol will go to criminal court for the misdemeanor charge of selling an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21-years of age.

The September 27th operation was the second one the Millbrae Police

Department has completed this year under a $17,000 grant from the California Department of Alcohol Beverages Control. The East Palo Alto Police

Department was the only other department in the county to receive a

grant-theirs was for $40,000. The Millbrae Department will complete up to

twelve operations before the end of June next year.

During the operation, four cadets from the Police Explorer program were used as decoys - they were chosen because they look several years younger than their 18 years of age.

With an undercover microphone, which the police used as surveillance, they

walked into the restaurants and ordered beer. When the beer reached their

table, they asked for a check right away.

"That should have set off warning bells," said Sgt. Josef Fregosi. "Not

often someone goes into a restaurant and asks just for alcohol."

The restaurants were not charged with citations until change was made and

the transaction was complete.

"We give them up to the completion of the sale to get out of it," said Fregosi.

During the August 14 operation, Safeway and 7-11, also on El Camino,

received citations. It was the second violation for 7-11, and they will have

either a 15-day suspension on their liquor license or receive a fine of an

approximation of 15 days of liquor sales. One more violation and they will

lose their liquor license for good.

Safeway has a policy of firing employees who serve to minors, but they

decided to have the employee this time provide training to others on how to

card minors. The rule is, if the customer looks under 40-years old, they

should be carded for identification.

Fregosi said the department started undercover operations two years ago,

well before the state issued them a grant. They noticed a large jump in the

numbers of alcohol related crimes involving minors between 1994 and 1998.

About half of minors buying alcohol in Millbrae are out-of-towners, from

places like Burlingame and other surrounding towns, said Fregosi.

Since 1998 the department has visited 55 businesses to test for compliance.

Millbrae's 38 percent non-compliance rate is still higher than the state's

30 percent, despite the operations. Fregosi said the department hopes to get

it down to less than 10 percent.

In October, the Millbrae Police Department will also start testing the

public for their response to minors wanting alcohol. The "shoulder tap"

operation will send decoys outside stores to ask other customers to buy

alcohol for them because they are underage. The penalty? Possible arrest and

a misdemeanor charge of providing alcohol for a person under 21-years of

age.The restaurants were not charged with citations until change was made and

the transaction was complete.

"We give them up to the completion of the sale to get out of it," said Fregosi.

During the August 14 operation, Safeway and 7-11, also on El Camino,

received citations. It was the second violation for 7-11, and they will have

either a 15-day suspension on their liquor license or receive a fine of an

approximation of 15 days of liquor sales. One more violation and they will

lose their liquor license for good.

Safeway has a policy of firing employees who serve to minors, but they

decided to have the employee this time provide training to others on how to

card minors. The rule is, if the customer looks under 40-years old, they

should be carded for identification.

Fregosi said the department started undercover operations two years ago,

well before the state issued them a grant. They noticed a large jump in the

numbers of alcohol related crimes involving minors between 1994 and 1998.

About half of minors buying alcohol in Millbrae are out-of-towners, from

places like Burlingame and other surrounding towns, said Fregosi.

Since 1998 the department has visited 55 businesses to test for compliance.

Millbrae's 38 percent non-compliance rate is still higher than the state's

30 percent, despite the operations. Fregosi said the department hopes to get

it down to less than 10 percent.

In October, the Millbrae Police Department will also start testing the

public for their response to minors wanting alcohol. The "shoulder tap"

operation will send decoys outside stores to ask other customers to buy

alcohol for them because they are underage. The penalty? Possible arrest and

a misdemeanor charge of providing alcohol for a person under 21-years of

age.

Contact reporter at: Alison@smdailyjournal.com

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