Two men were charged Tuesday with attempting to steal cooking oil from tanks belonging to a restaurant, reported.
Officer Douglas Itjen responded to on a report of a theft at the restaurant, near Willowbrook Mall off of Route 23 South, just after 6:30 a.m.
George Guttridge reported to police that when he arrived at the restaurant to collect the oil, he saw a hose extending from one of tanks to a holding tank in a nearby van, police reported. Guttridge, who has a contract to collect the oil, attempted to use his truck to block the van from leaving the property, said Detective Capt. James Clarke. Itjen reported that the men fled the scene, striking Guttridge’s truck in the process, and that the van fled on Route 23 South in Cedar Grove. Cedar Grove Police located the van and escorted it back to the restaurant, the report states.
The men were dressed in greasy suits and had a large hose attached to a pump and their holding tank, the report states. The men were identified as Leard Jones Jr., of East Orange, and Cody Jerome of Bristol, Pa. Each man was charged with one count of robbery and one count of theft, Clarke said. Wayne Municipal Court Judge Peter Weiss set bail for each man at $50,000, Clarke said. The men were to be transported to the Passaic County Jail. The Wayne Police Department is holding the van. Guttridge removed the oil from the van Tuesday morning.
A New Jersey-based company that disposes of used cooking oil and contracts with several Bedford businesses says dozens of gallons have gone missing, according to officials. Bedford Police are investigating the complaint, which came in March 26. It’s likely the crimes occurred over several months, Lt. Jeffrey Dickan said.
Recyclable items such as copper pipes and heavy-duty wire and cable have long been targets of thieves, but recently, cooking oil has been sought after, too. The waste cooking oil was missing from a handful of businesses, including the Bedford Diner, Kicho and Nino’s Restaurant, according to officials. It’s typically stored outside in gallon drums. Bedford Police were unable to provide a value for the missing material.
According to Greenwich CT police Lt. Kraig Gray, where $600 worth of cooking oil was stolen this winter, the used cooking oil is processed into biodiesel fuel for cars and various manufacturing equipment.
Three Rhode Island men were indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2012 for allegedly stealing used cooking oil valued at $430,000 from hundreds of restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and selling it to a New Hampshire company to make biofuel.
Closer to home, in the wake of reports of a rash of thefts of cooking oil from storage containers at local businesses, Orangetown police in January charged a Long Island man in connection with the theft of $334 worth of cooking oil in Orangeburg. Bedford officials say the investigation is ongoing.
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