RACINE — Operators of two convenience stores on the city’s near south side are facing thousands of dollars in tickets after they were caught selling loose cigarettes and small cigars to local minors.
The tickets were handed out last month after a Racine police officer working out of the Mead Street Community Policing Unit conducted a two-day investigation of three shops in the area.
As part of the sting, which took place between March 8 and 9, the officer had seven juvenile volunteers enter the shops and attempt to purchase cigarettes or cigarillos from clerks. The Market, 1949 Racine St., which didn’t sell tobacco products to the volunteers, was the only shop that was not ticketed. The ticketed shops were The Sweet Spot, 1900 Mead St., and Belle City Foods, 522 16th St.
The youths made 13 separate visits to the shops, and in all but one of their trips, they were sold cigars or cigarettes, according to the police report.
In most cases the youths were sold loose cigarettes, which resulted in an additional ticket for selling cigars or cigarettes in any other way than in a pack with tax stamp affixed.
In most cases the minors entered the store two at a time, with both attempting to purchase cigarettes or cigars.
In one of the visits to The Sweet Spot one of the volunteers was sold a single Newport cigarette for 50 cents. The other volunteer was sold a Swisher Sweet brand cigarillo for $1, the report states.
Similar transactions allegedly took place during five other visits to the shop — transactions that resulted in 22 tickets and $12,000 in potential fines for the business.
Belle City Foods, which was allegedly caught selling cigars or cigarettes to minors on five separate occasions got 14 tickets, and is now facing more than $7,000 in fines.
According to the police report, the officer who conducted the investigation decided to organize it after hearing that The Sweet Spot was suspected to have sold tobacco products to people under 18.
As the tickets were handed out for ordinance violations, they will be handled in municipal court.
City Attorney Rob Weber said last week, however, that he plans to contact the Department of Revenue once the cases are adjudicated.