GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 62% failure rate – that’s the sad percentage of how many times Giles County store clerks illegally sold vape products to an underage confidential informant working with the Giles County Sheriff’s department.

A few weeks ago, Giles County Sheriff Kyle Helton showed News 2 viewers just how big a problem vapes are in Giles County schools.

At that time, he put all vape stores on notice that his investigators were coming.

Over the last few days, the sheriff made good on that pledge as his investigators used a 20-year-old confidential informant to visit 26 stores that sell vapes in the county.

You have to be 21 years old to buy vapes and alcohol.

The underage informant tried to buy vape products 26 times, and of those 26 attempts,
the store sold to the underage buyer 16 times, correlating a 62% failure rate.

Investigator Michael Thomason said he was shocked the number was so high.

According to Thomason, the clerk at one store that has a history of selling to minors and who has been busted before even checked the informants identification before illegally selling both vapes and beer to the 20-year-old.

“One of the clerks IDed the informant, looked at the ID and still sold beer and a vape to the underage informant,” Thomason said.

In mid December, the sheriff and his SRO’s showed News 2 a table loaded with vapes confiscated over the years.

“I believe this here will hurt our kids,” one SRO said.

“I feel like it is an epidemic in this county,” Sheriff Helton added.

According to officers, the school custodians found them while they were cleaning bathrooms. They believe students hide vapes for one another in ceiling tiles and even behind toilets.

According to one SRO, easily 95% of the kids who go to their high school are holding, using, or have used a vape.

Thomason said the problem is unsettling and the persistent sale of these products to under age students could lead to health problems, or even death.

The clerks who sold illegally will be cited for selling to minors and investigators told News 2 the sheriff’s office will refer the case of the illegal beer sales to the city beer board for disciplinary consideration against the stores caught in the sting.