Police in Queenstown bar sting

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Two Queenstown bars face closing their doors for up to a week after allegedly being caught serving underage youngsters. 

Lone Star and Yakitori Daruma Japanese Sake Bar restaurant allegedly sold booze to teenage girls in a police sting. 

Senior sergeant John Fookes says four more ‘controlled purchase operations’ will be carried out before the end of the year. 

Undercover officers accompanied the two girls – aged 15 and 16 – to 14 premises on Friday, August 22. 

That included eight bars, clubs and restaurants and six off-licences. 

“It’s disappointing to be honest,” Fookes says. 

“The ideal for us is we find no breaches. 

“I don’t think underage drinking is a massive problem in Queenstown as it is in other places. 

“The licensees, they don’t want underage people in their premises, they don’t want to serve them. 

“So we want to be upfront about it because the objective is to ensure we’ve got good processes in place rather than to catch people out.” 

Both cases – Lone Star, on Brecon Street, and the Sake Bar, on Shotover St – will now go before New Zealand’s Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA). 

It considers and determines enforcement applications regarding alleged breaches by licensees or managers. 

If the premises agree with the police statement of facts, ARLA will make a judgment, or alternatively the cases can be taken to an ARLA hearing. 

ARLA has the power to suspend licences for up to seven days. 

The owners of both bars declined to comment. 

The controlled purchase operation was carried out by police in conjunction with Queenstown’s council and Public Health South. 

Last month, Camp St’s Skybar was closed for 72 hours – the resort’s longest suspension in recent years – after incidents in 2012 and 2013. 

Skybar owner Daniel Taiaroa said the bar accepted the suspension rather than continuing to wait for a hearing date, and systems have been put in place since to ensure it fulfils its licence obligations.