BROOKLYN - The Department of Consumer Affairs has started to crack down on illegal home improvements throughout the city.

Department officials say they have already busted several contractors and have taken away their cars and tools. In the past two months, the department has already investigated more than 386 home improvements across the city.

The investigation led to the surprising number that one in five contractors were operating illegally. So far, a total of seven contractors in Brooklyn have been busted.

Officials recommend homeowners protect themselves by getting references, even from licensed contractors. Homeowners should also never pay in cash and get all estimates and contracts in writing.