Students may find their IDs more closely scrutinized in the upcoming months, thanks to a recent increase in the use of fake IDs in and around Hillsdale.
“Based on information we have obtained from an ongoing investigation, we have reason to believe it may be widespread in our community,” Chief of Police Scott Hephner said.
Hephner said police became aware of the problem when a young person provided a fake license to a police officer. According to public records, an 18-year-old was arrested on Jan. 18 for providing fake ID to police, among other charges.
“With new technologies, it’s really hard to tell,” Hephner said. “They’re not as obvious anymore.”
Fake identification cards can now have valid magnetic strips and holograms, security measures that were previously difficult to replicate.
“We’ve come across some really good ones,” Hephner said, adding the department has confiscated fake identification cards from both college students and area youth.
Even students who can legally purchase alcohol have said their identification is being more heavily scrutinized.
Senior Hannah Niemeier was a passenger in a car during a traffic stop in Hillsdale on Saturday night. A law enforcement officer asked for the licenses of everyone in the vehicle.
“I’ve never had a cop ask for anybody’s ID who’s not the driver,” Niemeier said.
Junior Erin Flaherty, who turned 21 over winter break, also reported having her identification inspected by a cashier.
“Something about it looked fishy to her,” Flaherty said.
Senior Maria Theisen, who turned 21 in March, said her vertical enhanced license tripped up the cashier at the Hillsdale Brewing Company.
“I’ve never been questioned with it before at the bar, but at the brewery, they questioned me about it,” Theisen said.
Theisen added she thinks this instance is part of a larger trend.
“I’ve definitely noticed that places that sell alcohol are looking a little bit more carefully at IDs,” she said.
Local businesses haven’t necessarily noticed this trend, however.
“We’re really proactive in training our cashiers,” Market House owner Brett Boyd said. “It’s not something we’ve seen here at the store. We try to be proactive in validating.”
Owner of Hillsdale Brewing Company Felicia Finch agreed.
“We haven’t seen it to my knowledge,” Finch said, “but we’ve only been open a week.”
Hephner said some local businesses may be unfamiliar with the design of out-of-state identification cards.
For now, police are trying to update their ability to recognize new technologies in false identification.
“We’re trying to find the best way to identify what we’re seeing now,” Hephner said.