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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) —Local law enforcement is cracking down on a number of blighted properties turned into bootleg liquor stores.
“Our ordinance calls them a dive. Some people call them a bootleg, and other people call them a shot house,” said Captain Michael Bittick with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
Bittick tells 41NBC these kinds of operations pop up in neighborhoods and take over abandoned properties — all for the sake of money.
“This is a place that is selling alcohol without a license,” said Bittick
The captain says the dive homes are usually active after midnight, especially with bars and lounges shut down due to COVID-19.
According to the county’s ordinance, dive homes are illegal because owners are selling alcohol and food to make a profit. They also allow illegal gambling, some even charge a cover fee.
Bittick says within the last several months there have been a few shootings at these locations.
About a week ago, the department shut down five homes.
If officers see gambling, illegal drugs, or cash registers, Bittick says the department will then investigate.
The captain says the owners of these homes are usually older adults. He says a few years ago, people could not purchase alcohol on Sundays so they started their own liquor store.
“You can imagine 1000 people in this small group in the area and you live in that area,” shared the captain.
He says to shut down these properties all homes must meet the criteria of the county ordinance.
If the department receives several calls for a potential dive house, it’s up to the officer if they want to arrest the owner or not.
“The person who is in charge of it, will be cited or the individuals that are participating in it can be cited,” said Bittick.