On Monday police apprehended two Queens, N.Y. men who allegedly had stolen 1,400 gallons of used cooking oil from a local North Bergen business.
North Bergen Police arrested Youngil Kim, 48, and Byung Ho Choi, 55, outside of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, located at 2100 88th St. at about 8:50 a.m.
According to Commander of the Detective Bureau Lt. Frank Cannella, North Bergen Police were called after the manager of the restaurant spotted someone stealing their used cooking oil, stored in two containers behind the building. He also noticed that a yellow van and the man stealing the oil had both appeared on the store’s surveillance cameras the last time their grease was stolen on Sept. 11.
He alerted police, who arrived on the scene and conducted a motor vehicle stop of the yellow van. It was outfitted with a plastic bladder to hold the oil, as well as a generator connected to a pump, which sucked the oil into the vehicle.
“I never knew restaurants got paid to get rid of this stuff.” – Frank Cannella
After police reviewed the store’s surveillance tapes, they were able to witness Choi allegedly committing the “exact same crime” while using the same vehicle on Sept. 11, said Cannella.
Cooking oil waste can be sold and turned into biodiesel fuel. Cannella said that Five Guys sells its grease to Darling International, a contractor who buys inedible cooking oils for about $1 a gallon, making the total worth of the loot $1,400.
“I never knew restaurants got paid to get rid of this stuff,” said Cannella, who said that no other such crimes have been reported in North Bergen before.
However, since arresting the duo, Cannella said that numerous businesses have called the department believing that the same grease truck individuals were allegedly responsible for their oil being stolen.
Cannella said that the two men operated a company called Hyundai Cyclin Inc. out of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cannella said that he has told callers to contact their local police departments and file a report. The North Bergen Police will then coordinate with those agencies, he said.
Kim and Choi were arrested for two counts of theft each, one for the first incident and the other based on the Sept. 11 surveillance footage.
Judge Nino Falcone set their bail at $10,000 each with no 10 percent option before transferring the men to Hudson County Jail, located in Kearny.
Anyone with more information of similar thefts should contact the North Bergen Police Detective Bureau at (201) 392-2095.
Alleged purse snatcher caught with check
On Sept. 14 Debra Colantuono, 38, of Cliffside Park was arrested on the charge of theft by unlawful taking after police traced a stolen purse back to her through video surveillance.
According to Cannella, on Sept. 9 a female victim shopping at Walmart, located at 2100 88th St., reported that one female distracted her, while another removed her purse from her shopping cart.
The incident was reported to North Bergen Police, who, along with store security, analyzed the building’s surveillance cameras. Two white females were shown taking the purse, exiting the store, and entering a dark colored SUV before driving away.
The victim said that the Coach purse, along with its contents, which included $150 cash, a Coach Wallet, Coach wristlet, gift cards, and makeup, were worth several thousands of dollars.
Cannella said that police were at the store continuing their investigation on Sept. 10 when Walmart security reported that one of the women allegedly involved had attempted to make a purchase with a personal check, which was declined.
They were able to identify her by her license number which they had on file.
When police visited her home on Sept. 14 to talk about the incident, police said she agreed to cooperate.
Colantuono told police that a female acquaintance that she only knows as “Amy” showed up at Walmart when she was there, said Cannella.
“The victim was not targeted; it was the first person that they saw,” said Cannella, according to Colantuono’s statement. “While Amy distracted the victim, she [allegedly] reached inside the shopping cart.”
After driving onto Tonnelle Avenue, Amy allegedly kept the cash before emptying the contents of the purse and threw the purse itself out of the window.
Police are following leads on identifying the other accomplice, said Cannella.
Judge Nino Falcone set Colantuono’s bail at $2,500 with a 10 percent option. She was released on the same day of her arrest.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.