St. Lucie County deputies go undercover to crack down on vaping

SLC undercover 2.PNG
St. Lucie County deputies go undercover to crack down on vaping (WPEC)

St. Lucie County deputies crack down on teen vaping.

School resource deputies tell CBS12 News they confiscate several vaping pens a week in St. Lucie County schools, with both tobacco and marijuana.

For three days, deputies have been performing an undercover operation in more than 50 stores in the county. They are making sure clerks are checking IDs before selling alcohol or tobacco. Only a handful of clerks broke the law. On Thursday, CBS12 News witnessed two.

“You know the drill. Act normal,” said an undercover deputy to teens working with the sheriff’s office.

The teens walk into the store while the undercover deputy watches them the entire time. The teens try to buy tobacco or alcohol, along with plenty of snacks so it’s not suspicious. When the undercover deputy comes out, he gives the signal that they either sold the tobacco/alcohol to a minor or they didn’t. If they did, deputies come in the store with the evidence.

“Did you just sell this?” That’s what a deputy asked holding a black and mild. It was sold to a 16-year-old when the legal age is 18.

CBS12’s Treasure Coast Erin MacPherson reporter asked the clerk, “Why did you sell it to her?” The clerk said she didn’t want to answer.

Then she was asked if she checked the teens ID, but the clerk didn’t answer.

Before this stop, a clerk was caught selling alcohol to a minor. The clerk immediately admitted to making a mistake; he said he didn’t calculate the birthday correctly.

Even though deputies caught two on Thursday, most of the clerks obeyed the law.

“I swiped and it wasn’t valid. I was like, ‘No, hon. You can’t buy it," one clerk said.

Everyone caught was given a citation and had to appear in court. Deputies hope this undercover operation will encourage store clerks to check IDs, especially with spring break around the corner.