Bayside restaurant owner helps cops nab thief who allegedly stole and sold recycled oil

Photo of storefront courtesy of Google Maps; inset image of oil drums courtesy of Joe D’Alessandro

A Bayside business owner helped police to catch a thief earlier this month who had been stealing recycled oil from his restaurant.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, officers from the 111th Precinct arrested Flushing resident Nigeme Rowe, who had allegedly been siphoning used oil that restaurants put out for recycling companies to collect.

According to Joe D’Alessandro of D’Alessandro’s Corner Grill, an unknown bandit had been hitting shops on Bell Boulevard and in Whitestone. For the past few months, D’Alessandro noticed that he had not received invoices from his recycle oil company. He spoke with other restaurant owners on the boulevard who reportedly said they had similar experiences with their used cooking oil.

Captain John Hall from the 111th Precinct confirmed that a thief had stolen $160 worth of recycled oil from the rear of D’Alessandro’s restaurant. The first incident took place on Thursday, Oct. 17, and the second on Monday, Nov. 4. Hall did not respond to inquiries about other incidents in the area.

D’Alessandro said that the NYPD told him that there was a three- to four-month “open investigation” surrounding the incident.

The restaurant owner explained that he and other owners regularly dump out their used cooking oil into large drums, which oil recycling companies subsequently pick up and turn into biodiesel. The companies then pay the restaurants when they pick up the oil.

He told QNS that his oil removal company had called him and inquired if he had switched companies because they had not collected oil from his restaurant for a few weeks. So, D’Alessandro began staying late at his restaurant to see if he could catch the thief on surveillance video.

At around 2 a.m. on Nov. 5, D’Alessandro was at his restaurant when he caught a glimpse of someone on video coming out of his back alleyway “with a hose.”

“There was a big tank on the back of the truck,” D’Alessandro said.

The suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Rowe, allegedly jumped into the truck and D’Alessandro began following him. He called 911 and reported the situation to the operator, who put him on hold and subsequently began tracking his cellphone.

D’Alessandro followed Rowe down Bell Boulevard and onto Northern Boulevard. The restaurant owner said that when they both turned onto 163rd Street, police officers “swarmed” the scene and arrested Rowe.

He provided police with security camera footage. Upon further investigation, D’Alessandro said that police discovered Rowe had been taking used oil and “selling it wholesale.”

“Instead of us getting paid, he was siphoning it out and stealing it,” said D’Alessandro, who added that Rowe allegedly made “$2 a gallon” from the stolen oil.