Inside Lisa's Liquors in Adams Village one night a few weeks ago, the manager was anxious, rejecting the license of a 40-year-old man because it had expired.
That wasn't the only reason: It could have had something to do with the team from the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission milling around the area, waiting for teens to illegally pick up alcohol or have an adult procure it for them.
Case in point: Just hours before, at the Supreme Liquors around the corner, the team had caught three 17-year-old juniors from Catholic Memorial, who had two 36-packs of Bud Light purchased for them by a 28-year-old.
"You're 28-years-old; you know better," chief ABCC investigator Ted Mahony recalls saying.
The teens' parents were contacted and a criminal complaint was filed against the 28-year-old.
"Our experience has been this works better," Mahony said of calling the parents. "They get to deal with this issue on a long-term basis at home."
The catch came at the wrap-up of the team's season, with a focus on proms. That same night they were in Dorchester, other investigators were in Quincy and Danvers.
"But you also have to get a good feel for the class schedules," Mahony added.
A week ahead of that May 30 sweep in Dorchester, investigators hit Lisa's Liquors over three nights, finding 22 minors attempting to transport or buy alcohol, eight adults trying to get alcohol for minors, four individuals with false identifications, for a total of 13 cases of beer and four bottles of various types of beverages confiscated or prevented from delivery.
"Eventually, they'll move onto someplace else," Mahony said.
That night, it appeared teens had. But so will the investigators, who total 12 across the state.
The commission was transferred to the state Treasurer Timothy Cahill's office in 2003, when then-Gov. Mitt Romney attempted to eliminate it. For 2008's "Operations Safe Prom and Graduation," the investigators found a total of 420 minors trying to get and transport alcohol, 160 adults attempting to get alcohol for minors and 50 individuals possessing false identifications.