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Given the high-tech devices young people and entrepreneurial miscreants have employed in recent years to manufacture bogus proof-of-age ID cards for the purpose of illegally buying alcohol, it’s kind of strange it’s taken so long for a device to show up that can detect such fake cards.

Ronnie’s Beverage Warehouse in Forest Hill and the Joppa Amoco are among the licensed liquor businesses in Harford County that have begun to use such devices.

Not surprisingly, they’re finding some pretty elaborate phony ID cards. The detection devices are surprisingly low-tech, compared to a lot of things on the market, essentially employing ultraviolet light to make key parts of valid ID cards glow.

“Even the best fakes we have seen do not have any ultraviolet features,” Charlie Robbins, chief inspector for the Harford County Liquor Control Board, said last week.

With a fairly simple technology that has been around for decades, business owners are able to ferret out not only fake ID cards proffered by underage people illegally pursuing alcohol, but also counterfeit credit cards and U.S. currency.

A quick scan of the Internet reveals these products are readily available, and relatively inexpensive.

From a certain perspective, it makes no more sense to run certain kinds of businesses without such equipment as it would to try to run a retail shop without a cash register.

Still, a few penny-pinching operations, no doubt, will be reluctant to purchase the detectors. For these, the liquor board should devise a mandatory fine of double the cost of a detector for every fake ID successfully used to buy booze at the offending business.


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