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"Operation Chug-a-Lug" Cracks Down on Peoria Beer Heists; 67 Underage Kids Arrested in Less Than Two Months

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Earlier this year the Peoria Police Department began noticing a trend in "beer runs" at area convenience stores by underage kids and decided to fight back.

For anyone unfamiliar with the term "beer run" in the criminal sense, allow us to explain: someone walks into a convenience store, grabs as much beer as they can carry, and then runs out without paying. Not exactly Oceans 11, but it certainly gets the job done. That is, unless cops set up a task force called "Operation Chug-a-Lug" targeting the crimes, which they did, and busted 67 kids for various, alcohol/ being-out-too-late-related crimes.

Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef tells New Times the operation began on June 11, after cops noticed a string of thefts from convenience stores in Peoria south of Bell Road.

Crime analysts determined certain times and locations at which to monitor for "beer runs." During the course of the operation 24 beer runs occurred in Peoria netting 8 arrests.

Beer thieves weren't the only targets of "Operation Chug-a-Lug," cops went after underage kids who merely drank beer, as well as kids who were out past curfew.

Of the 67 kids arrested, eight were under the age of 17 and caught drinking alcohol. The rest were either out past curfew or between the ages of 18 and 20 and caught consuming alcohol.

For those between the ages of 18 and 20, they can take a little (ahem) solace in the fact that while they're not allowed to drink a beer, they're allowed to fight a war.

The operation cost about $5,500, which seems a little outrageous considering the goal, but Tellef says the money came from a grant from the Justice Department, not city taxpayers. 

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