BEACH HAVEN — Police have always checked bar patrons’ IDs against a state-issued manual in attempt to spot a fake.

But police say the use of fake IDs became more prevalent as the quality of fake IDs has improved.

“In the past, people used to walk in and hand you an ID, and it would be like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Now, you really have to look,” Beach Haven Capt. Matthew Greenwood said.

But the department has purchased a $5,000 ID card-reader system after bar manager Troy Sarro introduced the department to the equipment. Sarro, a manager at the Seashell Bar and Nightclub uses the same system at the popular Beach Haven establishment.

Beach Haven Police Department is the first law-enforcement agency in New Jersey to use the technology to combat underage drinkers from passing off fake IDs.

“When Beach Haven Police came up to the bar and saw it, they were impressed. The equipment is great especially on Thunder Thursdays when we get a lot of fake IDs,” said Sarro who is also a salesman for manufacturer Advanced ID Detection.

To demonstrate, police pulled fake ID after fake ID that has been confiscated from a pile on the counter in the police station and inserted them in the machine. One after one, the screen identified the driver’s licenses as fakes.

“We’re going from this,” Greenwood said as he pulled out the identification manual, “to this new technology.”

The police used the system for the first time on a Saturday night at the Marlin Bar — and in 45 minutes, had their first arrest, Greenwood said.

Lauren Debaere, 20, of Manalapan, Monmouth County, was charged after she tried to pass off a fake New York driver’s license to enter the bar, police said.

Sarro and police demonstrated how they slipped Debaere’s ID that was determined to be fake into the machine.

The system scans identification cards for details that a typical scanner would miss because it detects only a magnetic strip and bar code. This type of information is also easily forged, Sarro said.

Kept in a black briefcase, it scans for UV and infrared ink and details, microprinting and ghost images, Sarro said.

“There is some microprinting on driver’s licenses that you would need a magnifying glass to see to determine if it is fake. This machine sees that,” he said.

On the back of a valid New Jersey driver’s license, a state Department of Motor Vehicles logo is encircled with the words “Garden State,” which is not visible to the naked eye.

Even if someone is trying to pass off a real driver’s license that they are using to gain entry to a bar, police said they can catch them too with the system.

Once a license is inserted in the machine the screen even tells police what horoscope sign the licensee would be — a tactic Markoski said can be used to trip someone up who is trying to impersonate someone else with a valid license.

“For real licenses, you can blow up the photo and compare it to the person and the machine also has a compare so you can take a picture of the person to make a comparison,” Markoski said.

The machine can also be used to check the validity of international and military identification, as well as passport cards.

“This system is necessary and will be an asset to the department. It will take the guess work out of trying to identify fake driver’s licenses,” Police Chief Kevin Kohler said.

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