LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — What is it about rats and dollar stores? Whether it's 99 Cents Only, Dollar Tree or Family Dollar--rats seem to be found far too frequently.
Tonight, Dirty Dining brings you the latest edition of Gross Grocers with two stores shut down after inspectors found them overrun with rodents.
One of the culprits was caught in the act! Running in a food aisle at Family Dollar on Twain and Swenson on April 19.
"If this is not a wake-up call to them, I don't know what is," said Family Dollar shopper Scott Simon, who sent us a picture of the Health District's closure sign on his neighborhood store before we even got the inspection reports.
"I guess what surprised me was it happened in my backyard. But what didn't surprise me was this store is dirty, it's cluttered and it just doesn't seem like cleanliness is a priority," Simon said.
Cleanliness had to quickly become a priority for Family Dollar to re-open, which it did on April 23 with a zero-demerit "A" grade. But that's after failing reinspection four days earlier.
"Having been in Las Vegas now for two years, I was surprised to see the Health Department here as aggressive as they are because in other cities they aren't as aggressive and won't go as far as closing down a store."
As a consumer, Simon appreciates the Health District's focus on protecting public health and safety. Something Family Dollar failed to do when it saw increased rat activity but didn't self-close or notify the Health District about the imminent health hazard.
"Stores have to realize that cleanliness is important to customers," said Simon.
When inspectors first shut down the Family Dollar on East Twain on April 16, they found rat feces and urine in multiple areas.
There were numerous empty traps lining the back area and an open container of Pringles that inspectors said "May serve as sustenance for rats."
And that wasn't the only Family Dollar store shut down for rats, which Scott calls, "Company systematic failure."
The Family Dollar on Lamb and Washington was also closed April 16 after the second valid complaint about rodents in just over a week.
Inspectors had been at the store on April 8 and were back a week later, finding a large amount of mouse feces and an "extremely foul urine odor" in the stock room.
They also saw urine on wrapping paper and shelving on the sales floor.
Pest control records show they caught 16 mice in just one day and that merchandise was chewed in the stockroom.
Inspectors also found an extensive roof rat infestation in the warehouse as well as rat feces in the cereal aisle.
Shelf rails were covered in rat "rub marks" showing where the rodents are traveling.
"Now it's pretty clean. When they did shut us down we did clean it up and it's back to business, said Manager Cassie Perez, who explained that she's new to the North Lamb store.
She had her work cut out for her after inspectors found excessive trash and food debris under shelving, coolers and throughout the sales floor providing a rat smorgasbord. That was noted as a repeat violation.
"That's why we worked hard to clean it up for our customers and everything," Perez said. "They don't deserve that so we made it better."
The store reopened April 19 with a zero-demerit A grade.
There have now been three Family Dollar locations on Dirty Dining due to rodent infestations. The store on Lake Mead and Pecos was shut down March 1, 2018 and reopened eight days later. At the time, that location had a history of rodent activity observed during health inspections going back to October, 2016.
The highest demerits went to Michoacan Gourmet Mexican restaurant on Tropical Parkway in Centennial Centre. It got 38 demerits and a "C" grade on April 16.
There was expired cheesecake that was 11 days old.
A lot of food was found at unsafe temperatures including pork, tamales, ground beef and steak--some of which had started turning brown.
Utensils and floors were dirty and there was mold in the ice machine.
A food handler touched raw shrimp with bare hands and continued working without washing.
In case you were wondering, the black beans at Michoacan come from cans, courtesy of Bush's. And the Health District found several severely dented ones in the kitchen.
Michoacan got its A grade back on April 23 but just barely because it got 10 demerits. One more and it would've failed reinspection.
The manager said he had no comment.
We've also got a cockroach infestation at a bakery. Yeshi Mart bakery on Flamingo and Decatur was shut down April 17.
Inspectors saw at least 10 live roaches in the bakery area and noted that the facility needs a good cleaning.
Yeshi Mart was re-inspected the next day and received a 3 demerit "A" grade.
The owner asks customers not to judge them by what he calls a "minor thing" and says they worked quickly to clean everything up.
Best Mobile Food Service truck #4 was shut down at Sunset and Hualapai on April 18 for two imminent health hazards: lack of refrigeration and no electrical service.
The only fridge was at 70 degrees and wouldn't even turn on at the time of inspection and a lot of food was at unsafe temperatures.
Loosely wrapped raw steak was stored over cheese and lettuce. Cilantro was stored on a dirty shelf. Raw shrimp was stored below the dish soap pump dispenser and there was no sanitizer solution at all on the truck.
Also neither of the food handlers on the truck had valid health cards. One had never even gotten one and the other's expired in 2017.
It was back to a zero-demerit A the next day. No one returned our call for comment.
Primm Valley Resort Casino is a Dirty Dining repeat offender. This time, their employee dining room was shut down for the imminent health hazard of not hot water.
The health inspector noted previous problems with inadequate hot water already this year at the Sports Bar and Primm and Proper restaurant.
The employee dining room remains closed as it hasn't been re-inspected yet.
Our call for comment was not returned.