Police finding more fake ID's, higher alcohol concentration levels

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The first two minors arrested for illegal possession of alcohol in Bloomington Thursday had bad phony ID's, police said.

"They were extremely poor quality and they were from other countries," said Cpl. Travis Thickstun, a state excise officer.

In one night, excise police nabbed 63 people on alcohol charges, almost two dozen more than in a similar patrol recently at Ball State. Officers said about 1 in 5 had false ID's.

"They are very common," says Excise Officer Brandon Thomas. Common, and uncommonly real-looking, so if a bar or store clerk isn't thorough, they'll end up selling alcohol to a minor."

There are do-it-yourself web sites for making phony ID's. "Most of the ID's in fact are coming from China," Thomas said. They're ordered over the internet from China-based companies, usually shipped to them in a novelty item, like a teddy bear or a stuffed animal."

The cards are stuffed with security features like hidden photos and holograms, but they often fall short, with information missing, holograms the wrong size or color or made-up state seals.

Trained eyes can spot those and that leads to arrests.

Police and retailers are working together to water down the effect of the false ID's. They look for patterns.

"They start seeing a rash of Rhode Island ID's at Ball State University or California ID's or Wisconsin ID's," Thomas said.

When bars and stores report those red flags, the fake ID investment made by the student goes down the drain, along with the alcohol intercepted by excise police.

"The ID's, from my experience, are associated with the higher blood alcohol levels," Thomas said.

Police say the large amounts of beer and other alcohol taken from one or two people with bad ID show they're supplying the alcohol to lots of other underage drinkers.

Officers say a real concern is that false ID use seems to be linked to higher levels of alcohol use.

"When we're taking them off people at the bars, it's not a level of alcohol like .08. We're seeing .25 and .27," Thomas told us.