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Stamford police arrest 2 in used cooking oil theft

August 28, 2018

STAMFORD - Police have arrested two Yonkers men, who police said were stealing used cooking oil to be sold on the black market.

Their arrests followed a complaint Stamford police received before 5 a.m. about two men stealing used cooking oil from 184 Summer St.

“This has been an ongoing issue for many of the restaurants in our area. The used cooking oil is stolen and sold on the black market and turned into bio-fuel,” Stamford police posted on their Facebook page.

“Patrol Officers and Officers from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations Property Crimes Division responded and stopped the thieves as they were attempting to leave the scene of the crime.”

Jonathan J. Garces and Richard D. Tolentino both of Yonkers, N.Y. were charged with sixth-degree and conspiracy at larceny in the sixth degree and first-degree criminal trespass.

They are being held on a $10,000.00 bond and area scheduled to appear in Court on Sept. 10.

Thefts of used cooking oil has been reported in a number of communities over the years.

On Wednesday, Johnny Ioanni, who works at Dairy Queen in Norwalk, found two men in a white truck, trying to remove leftover grease from barrels. It’s not the first time it’s happened to Ioannida.

“All year it’s a problem, every other week. I caught them three times last year and just yesterday I caught them again,” Ioannidas told The Hour on Thursday. “But they took off again and the cops never found them.”

Ioannidas said the oil is fresh off the fryers, which he cleans three times a week. It adds up to about 200 gallons of grease every month, which Ioannidas would normally dispose of for about 10 to 15 cents per gallon.

Ioannidas speculated that the attempted thieves are taking the oil, which can be refined into biofuel, to sell at an increased cost on the black market.

Dave Kuban, manager of Planet Pizza in Norwalk, said he’s experienced similar issues.

“It happens once or twice a month,” Kuban said.

He said it’s common to see a rental van pull up with a crew of guys, a vacuum and several empty drums to hold the liquid once it’s been sucked from the restaurant’s barrels. Kuban said he’s not angry about losing the money — the returned oil only brings in about $10 per 100 gallons returned, he said. But failed capers often leave a mess.

In another Norwalk theft, a surveillance camera captured the thief cutting the lock to the grease container in the rear of the building around 1:30 a.m. and hooking up a large hose to suck out the grease.

Last fall in Wilton, nearly 150 gallons of used cooking oil was stolen Ren Dumpling and Noodle House.

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