Police Seize Thousands Of Fake IDs In Arizona

Mar 9, 2011 11:09am

ABC News on Campus reporter Tia Castaneda blogs: College students have long been associated with using fake IDs as a quick ticket to a good time – that is, if you don’t get caught. Photo courtesy of Tempe Police Department.  But in Tempe, Ariz., more than 2,000 people did get caught. The Tempe Police Department says 2064 people were caught using fake IDs in the Mill Avenue District, a frequent hangout for college students, between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.
Mill Avenue is a lively street within a mile of Arizona State University that caters to the younger crowd with shops, pizza joints, and nearly 30 bars.
Sergeant Steve Carbajal of the Tempe Police Department wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com that the number is actually down 34 ID’s from last year’s total — but the number still illustrates the department's commitment to seize fake IDs. Mill Ave’s Cue Club, School of Rock, and Zuma were among the top three bars for fake ID seizures.
Arizona State University and University of Arizona are not ranked on the Princeton Review's 2010 Top Party School list. So we wanted to find out how other school regions notorious for partying stack up.  We contacted the number two party school on the Princeton Review list, the University of Ohio in Athens, to find out how many IDs they confiscated. 
Tom Pyle, Chief of Police at the Athens Police Department, wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com that the department charged only nine people with ficticious ID use.
Next, ABCNews.com spoke with the Austin Police Department. The University of Texas at Austin is ranked sixth on the latest Princeton Review list. Their fake ID confiscation total was also substantially smaller than that of Tempe's.  Laurie Najjar of the Austin Police Department says there were only 50 ficticious ID offenses during 2010. Police departments near other schools that ranked highly on the party school list said they don’t collect this type of data. 
In Tempe, Oscar Puente, 22, said he knows what it is like to be questioned by a bar’s security team.
“Your heart[rate] is rapid, you are nervous from the core but you have to be visually calm and cool,” said Puente. Like many other fake ID users, Puente took a risk.
“Using a fictitious identification to enter a liquor establishment is a crime and the person can be arrested and fined,” said Carbajal.
Puente said before he turned 21, he would use his fake ID without worrying about the consequences.
“It doesn’t hurt [to use a fake] because all they [the bartenders] do is keep the card and then throw you out,” said Puente.
Jessica Gomes, who lives in Tempe, but is a bartender in Scottsdale, said it is important for employees to know the protocol. 
“If the liquor board was to come in and catch [the guest]… there is not only a fine for them but an additional fine for me and the restaurant with the possibility of the bar's liquor license to be taken away,” said Gomes.
“I don’t go through specific training to check IDs, but if someone comes up to the bar and they look under 21 I’ll request an ID again,” Gomes added.
She said the patron usually does not have an issue with her asking for an ID.
“The only time people get defensive [if I ask for ID] is if they have gray hair,” said Gomes. And Gomes shared some advice for those considering to use a fake ID on Mill Avenue:  “Just don't do it, they are tougher on Mill because it’s a college crowd down there.”
Every one of the 2064 fake IDs are being held as evidence at the Tempe Police Department, until the offender is checked for any criminal charges.
Carbajal said the IDs are usually impounded for destruction so there will be a few less fake IDs out on the streets.
“We work to educate employees working in the downtown district on what to look for when checking identification cards.” 

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