WARWICK, RI — Officer Jonathan DiPietro had heard grease trap bandits were stealing used cooking grease restaurants intended for resale as biodiesel, slipping capture, so he took notice when a flatbed truck parked next to Piezonis Pizza in Apponaug Feb. 24 at 2:57 a.m.
DiPietro passed the pizza parlor, parking at Village Green Condos on Post Road, where he had a line of sight on the suspected grease thieves. From his perch, DiPietro could hear a pump in progress positioned near Piezonis.
As DiPietro listened, the pump grew quiet and the truck pulled out of Piezoni’s lot onto Post. DiPietro pulled out of his parking spot, and followed the truck as it proceeded through the rotaries onto Veterans Memorial Highway and then onto the Post Road extension. DiPietro reported smelling what he recognized as cooking oil from a similar theft in December behind KFC on Airport Road. He turned on his emergency lights and pulled over the truck.
The truck was covered in cooking oil grease, according to DiPietro’s report. He spoke with the driver and passenger, identified as Jesus Eduardo Pereira Mendes, 29, of 11502 14th Ave., Queens, New York, 11356, and Franklin Gustavo Zurita Reyna, both of whom were wearing high-visibility orange and yellow jackets and pants and black plastic gloves. Both men were also covered in cooking oil.
Three other officers arrived on scene, and DiPietro asked them about the cooking grease in the back of the truck. Reyna claimed there wasn’t cooking oil grease in the truck, then said that the oil wasn’t from this evening.
At Piezoni’s officers found the grease trap, marked Newport Bio Diesel, was still open. The men were arrested and taken to Warwick Police Headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive, where they were charged with larceny under $1,500.
The truck was towed by Ronnie’s Towing.