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Detroit cracking down on illegal businesses

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By Maurielle Lue
Fox 2 News


DETROIT (WJBK) -- Shut down and locked up.  Operation Compliance is in full effect.  Detroit's Building and Safety Department cracked down on almost half a dozen illegal businesses Thursday operating without a license or permit from the city.

Places such as Sunny's Tire Shop, a cesspool of violations.

"It's going to take 13 days tops," says Sunny Money.  "I want my customers to know I will be back.  I will be back on track.  Trust me."

He is optimistic.  There is a lot of work to be done.  Sunny's Tire Shop of the 14000 block of Tireman is zoned for retail not selling used tires.  There are plumbing issues and shoddy electrical hookups, including a space heater with burned out wires -- an accident waiting to happen in a tire shop.

"I'm going to do what it takes to get it right.  I'm going to clear everything out.  I'm going to do what's right.  I'm going to make sure all the tires are in a good environment," Money says.

In all, four out of six businesses were shut down.  Two got up to code just before the bust.

There are more than 1,500 illegal businesses in Detroit, many in buildings that are supposed to be vacant.  But a task force created to tackle this problem is driving that number way down.

"We'll probably do about 18 a week beginning next week," says Glenn Davis with the City of Detroit.  "We're coming.  We will be there, and our effort is to help.  We don't want to close anyone."

The businesses that can reopen must go through the city for proper permits after all the fees are paid.  All of the business owners shut down Thursday received a compliance letter in fall of 2012, but some people have to learn the hard way.

"It's very hard for me right now.  I'm smiling for no reason right now.  Basically I'm crying in my heart, but I will get back up.  I promise you that.  I will," says Money.  "They don't call me Sunny Money for nothing."

Some of the police on the scene say shutting down businesses like this is a good thing because business owners who do not pay city taxes leads to smaller paychecks and city layoffs.

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