ALCOA (WATE) – Police in Alcoa shut down two nuisance businesses Thursday. They say Days Inn and Budget Inn Royal Extended Stay were hubs for all sorts of criminal activity.
The businesses are on adjoining properties on busy Alcoa Highway.
Police say in the last five years they have received hundreds of calls about the businesses. The calls range from reports of theft, rape, prostitution, and drug crime.
The motels are across the street from the airport, nestled among several car dealerships and fast food restaurants.
Officers descended on the businesses Thursday afternoon. They went door to door asking renters to leave. People working in the area have been somewhat aware of what's been going on there for a while.
"You run into a lot of people who you can tell they are drug users, prostitutes possibly, and some other shady characters," said Lou Esch, who works at Twin City Hyundai, just two doors down from the motels.
Police say five years ago Days Inn and Budget Inn Royal Extended Stay were taken over by new owners. That's when the motels became a hub of criminal activity.
They believe the people running the businesses, managers Jaghubhai V. Patel and Bhagu V. Hira with Mani Associates out of Hermitage, Tenn., approved of what was going on at the motels.
"We've had close to 800 calls of service ranging from all kinds of crime. We've had 159 arrests," said Alcoa Policed Department Acting Chief Phillip Dunn.
Renters, some long term, had to pack up their belongings in a hurry. They received refunds for paid rental.
"They just opened my door, no knock, no nothing. They just opened it and said they were fixing to shut the place down because of a court order. They said I had to be out by 5 p.m.," said Robert Banfill.
Neighbors hope it's the start of a new chapter.
"I'm sure in time the right things will be done to the property," Esch said.
The owners will have a hearing in Blount County Circuit Court. That will determine the future of the businesses.
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