WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

PA troopers swoop into Delaware to identify Pennsylvanians buying booze in Delaware

Apparently unbeknownst to authorities here in Delaware, Pennsylvania state troopers drove into Delaware over the Memorial Day weekend to identify Pennsylvanians buying their liquor in Delaware.

Like they didn't have better things to do.

Independent reporter/columnist Christopher Freind offers details (and some heated commentary)...


Posted at 2:06pm on May 29, 2013 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Wed, May 29, 2013 3:29pm
This booze was made for walkin'
That's what it's gonna do.
One of these days this booze
Is gonna' walk all over you....

We found out during Prohibition. Booze travels.

Wed, May 29, 2013 3:35pm
Nothing new here. They've been doing this for years.

The Delaware County Times is owned by the (bankrupt and infamous) Journal Register Company. The article is a column, not a news story and none of the "facts" offered have sources. Mostly, the column is an attack of PA governor Tom Corbett. The article seems to assume that governor micromanages State Police operation (again, no sources or evidence).

What's ironic is Governor Corbett has been pushing hard for privatization of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor stores. So, if Corbett had ordered cops to do this on a larger scale than in recent years,what is the motive?

Is the idea supposed to be that pulling people over and confiscating booze going to get people riled up so they support privatization? Polls show they already do. Everybody except the unions represent liquor store workers and MADD.

The way the booze stings work, undercover PA troopers stake out liquor stores looking for PA plates and then radio the plate numbers back to cars waiting on the other side of the line, where troopers pull cars over. However, PA "state stores" have made a point of being more competitive with out of the commonwealth liquor stores. Prices are lower (not equal but close enough to make it not worthwhile for most people to drive across the line for liquor and wine) and selection is better now. PA even has liquor stores located close to the state line offering bargain selections. As a result, a lot fewer Pennsylvanians drive to Delaware (or Jersey or Maryland) than in years past and state troopers have pretty much given up their stake outs at close to the border liquor stores. This whole alleged exercise is pointless.

But if - if - it's true, maybe Delaware troopers should get even and start staking out PA beer distributors, which offer lower prices on beer by the case and better selection than Delaware stores.

And just when I thought Allen Loudell had given up right-wing blogs and disreputable publications, he starts trolling Journal Register's sleazy suburban rags. Did WDEL contact the PA state police, local liquor stores or anyone else to confirm this - or do they just repeat a questionable opinion piece and call it news?

Allan Loudell
Wed, May 29, 2013 3:56pm
Christopher Freind is not a Delaware County Times reporter, and I don't normally see the DelCo Times. His stuff pops up in other media. Freind actually sent me the article, knowing I'd be interested in the Delaware angle.

Wed, May 29, 2013 5:06pm
Allan Loudell: So, he's a blogger and a bottom-feeder newspaper publishes his stuff. I ask again, did you verify his claims before giving it your imprimatur?

Wed, May 29, 2013 6:23pm
I remember back in the late 70s and early 80s when DE cops would stake out Elkton Road on Sundays and nab people bringing booze back into DE from MD.

I'll wager that there will be no prosecutiosn in this case, but the cops will keep the seized booze. That was probably the whole plan all along.

Allan Loudell
Wed, May 29, 2013 6:32pm
Just because it's on my blog doesn't represent an "imprimatur" on my part, meaning I agree with everything in that article... (Interesting that you choose a term most commonly used in the Catholic Church)

You know the answer to your own question. I link to a variety of news sites, including opinionated ones.

The Associated Press did report the initial episode. Philly.com reported the original police warning. And the Pennsylvania State Police policy on out-of-state alcohol purchases is on the PSP website.

Wed, May 29, 2013 6:52pm
Allan Loudell: I don't expect you to agree with everything in articles to which you link. I do expect you to check the facts presented as fact. It would be nice if you said when you agree with the opinions offered and when you do not (and why).

According to WHYY, a legitimate news source unlike the various Journal-Register suburban papers that carry your blogger friend, they made three arrests. The operation was targeting only people bringing large quantities of booze into Pennsylvania.

The operation ran four-and-a-half hours and involved only a small number of liquor control agents. There is no indication the governor ordered this operation or was involved in any way.

Further your blogger buddy claims Delaware State Police were not notified plain-clothes officers were staking out two locations (Total Wine and More and Tri-State Liquors) but offers no support for this claim, which is highly unlikely since notifying local authorities is common police procedure.

Remember: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." But since you were not a journalism student, maybe you never heard it.

Wed, May 29, 2013 6:53pm
Isn't Pennsylvania's booze law unconstitutional? Even so, this is carrying police powers to a dangerous level. I'm a staunch proponent of states' rights, but this is state harassment of its own citizens. Only the FBI has jurisdiction in interstate commerce situations. If Pennsylvania is so concerned about what their citizens do in other states, then why don't they just build a wall like the one that divided Berlin during the Cold War?

Wed, May 29, 2013 8:10pm
The law has been around since 1933. The 21st Amendment gives states control over liquor. People are stopped in Pennsylvania and arrested for possession in Pennsylvania of untaxed liquor (state tax).

They are observed leaving liquor stores in Delaware, which gives troopers probable cause to stop them in Pennsylvania.

Wed, May 29, 2013 9:02pm
Yes, but is it legal for Pennsylvania police to go into Delaware to spy on Pennsylvania citizens? I would consider that a violation of privacy. I can see where it may be legal to set up checkpoints at the state line, but for police in one state to cross into another to set people up and follow them back across the state line for the purpose of a sting is highly questionable ethics to say the least.
I'd think that if somebody were to take this to court that a judge would consider evidence gathered by police by spying on a Pennsylvania citizen while in Delaware would be inadmissable.

Thu, May 30, 2013 3:30am
Pizza: Spying? They sit in a parking lot outside a liquor store - a public space. They watch people come out of the liquor store with a full shopping cart. They watch some people go back in multiple times and fill the shopping cart. They see a PA license plate, write down the number, and radio it to another car. They are not followed back.

There is no "expectation of privacy" (a legal standard) in a public parking lot.

Just be grateful they don't stop everybody from Pennsylvania who comes out of a Delaware shopping center with bags and packages, because everybody is breaking the law by not paying PA sales tax.

Thu, May 30, 2013 7:02am
That'll be next if they ain't stopped. Pennsylvania police have no business driving their official cars across state lines. They're out of their jurisdiction.

Thu, May 30, 2013 8:15am
If I read the story correctly...3 people purchased 17 cases of beer, 10 cases of wine, and 15 bottles of liquor.

Sounds like the PA police are targeting Pennsylvanians attempting to buy large quantities of "booze" in tax-free DE for the purpose of selling in PA. Either that or...those three individuals were on their way to a really big party ;)

Mike from Delaware
Thu, May 30, 2013 8:27am
What I wish those PA Cops were doing is checking all the PA licensed vehicles that are in Delaware that are being driven by illegal aliens. That presents a far bigger safety issue than some modern day bootlegger importing Delaware Hootch into PA.

Thu, May 30, 2013 12:52pm
Before Sunday liquor sales were legal in the First State, Delaware State police did the same thing the PA police did in this story. As stated by dunmor, they used the same force against Delawareans booze shopping in Maryland. And, particularly at Holiday time, they would search out those crossing the border into PA.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, May 30, 2013 1:50pm
JimH: Thanks for the rest of the story. So this is common practice by all these states, ours included, so they probably "unofficially" know about it and give each other "professional courtesy" and look the other way.

Thu, May 30, 2013 6:59pm

Fri, May 31, 2013 8:40am
Jump back to the unconstitutional part. At first glance it seems so. How can the government impose where people shop, as per the point made, everyone coming to do Delaware's no-tax shopping?

There are several possibilities underlying this sting. One was that this was an attempt to get just one guy, and it had to look like an open process.

Two. They could have just arrested normal non-criminal people who probably like everyone of us, never once thought of liquor taxes and the jurisdictional boundaries of tax laws, but instead, just knew that outlets (that I often hear advertised on WDEL) promoted their large selections and very cheap prices, and were probably a better shop than that little store on the corner down the street...

Third. Perhaps the amounts purchased were for a wedding, retirement party, or business cocktail hour. The confiscated amount really isn't much liquor. Seriously, if one lived in Boothwyn, their normal choice as a consumer would be to drive to Delaware instead of dealing with the Blue Route if they were in charge of a major alcohol purchase. Businesses have budgets too you know.

Fourth. By doing this sting and publicizing it, law enforcement has sent a signal for PA people to now shop in stores that are not right across the border. Newark, Bear, New Castle come to mind. And to be extra safe, then take a street crossing into PA instead of a major highway. This action won't change a thing.

Fifth. If a government is going to impose a tax, it must as due recourse, impose a penalty for not paying that tax. The constitutionality of that was established early on in our country during the Whiskey Rebellion. That conversation went as follows.... "You can't make us pay an arbitrary tax because you say so..." "Yes we can." "Oh.. ok."

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 10:55am
Just stopped by and looking over this thread. Thought it very appropriate that it stopped with a fifth.

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 9:31pm
Kavips: Makes sense to me.

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach