RIVERSIDE, Mo. – With just days until the nation celebrates its colorful and storied Independence Day, business at metro fireworks stands is lighting up.
But counterfeit bills have been spotted, with fake money being used to pay for fireworks. Three men were arrested in Riverside after one stand was hit twice last week with fake bills by the same two men and an accomplice waiting in a car. The men would reportedly come in and buy one or two fireworks, pay with a fake 20 dollar bill, and get real money in change.
But thanks surveillance cameras at a Red-X tent, the men were caught at another fireworks stand potentially doing the same thing.
“They see these fireworks tents I think as an easy way to get it, because they figure that most of those people are checking on everybody,” Skip Clinton with River Roll Fireworks said.
Police in Riverside say counterfeiting criminals are hitting stands around the area. Last week at the Red-X stand, several fake bills made it into the register.
“Once you really got looking at them, the ones they sent us back, they had one president’s face on it, but then when you held it up to the light you had another president,” said Zeke Young with Red-X Fireworks.
And on two separate days last week, the River Roll Fireworks stand caught two men on surveillance cameras passing fake 20 dollar bills to pay for less than $10 worth of explosives.
“It’s frustrating to know that somebody would come in here and try to take advantage of you,” said Clinton.
But thanks to that surveillance, on Thursday Riverside police were able to circulate photos of the men they say are responsible. Within an hour an off-duty officer recognized the two men as they were pulling back in to the stand at Red-X and a third man waiting in the car.
“They got caught, that’s the main thing,” Young said.
Just like the fireworks he sells, Clinton has a word for the men.
“Punks. The funny thing is when they got arrested I drove down there and saw them, and they looked right at me, so I hope they get to see me again,” he said.
The three men were arrested at the Red-X stand on Thursday, they could be facing both state and federal charges. The U.S. Secret Service is also investigating a case at a fireworks stand in Independence.