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The Polk County Sheriff's Office conducted an "Operation Pop-Top" on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at ten different convenience stores in the Bartow and South Lakeland areas. The ongoing operation is designed to ensure that stores within the county are compliant with state laws by not selling alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.
Deputies are assisted in the operation by a PCSO Explorer who makes the attempt to purchase alcohol. The Explorer program is for high school students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. In this particular operation, the Explorer was 19-years-old.
Out of the ten stores visited by Deputies and the Explorer on Tuesday, nine of the stores were compliant.
38-year old Sumitraben Patel of Winter Haven, who is employed by the Citgo store at 5383 S. Florida Ave. in Lakeland, was charged with the misdemeanor crime after she allowed a 19-year old to purchase an alcoholic beverage.
The nine stores which refused to sell the alcoholic beverage to the Explorer were:
• Citgo, 795 W. Main St., Bartow
• Circle K, 310 W. Main St., Bartow
• 7-Eleven, 1020 N. Broadway Ave., Bartow
• RaceTrac, 1690 N. Broadway Ave., Bartow
• 7-Eleven, 6175 US Hwy 98 S., Lakeland
• Circle K, 2175 E. CR 540A, Lakeland
• 7-Eleven, 1011 E. CR 540A, Lakeland
• Wawa, 5410 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland
• Marathon, 1201 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland