HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A burglar with a hearty appetite and impeccable manners paused to make himself a meal while stealing from a Long Island restaurant.
As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, the kitchen at Nelly's Taqueria in Hicksville was spotless when employees opened Tuesday morning. However, damage to the cash register signaled there had been an overnight break-in.
Surveillance video captured the crime.
The man broke in through a tiny kitchen window and stole $100 from the register. But instead of taking off, he cooked himself quite a feast.
"He went into the kitchen and first thing he does is start making a meal," said owner Nelly Palacios.
"He cooked up a nice wonderful dish of rice, frijoles, shrimp and chicken," the restaurant's manager, Mike, told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall. "And then cleaned up after himself."
The man showed off some serious skills with a skillet -- all while changing rubber gloves between tasks.
"First thing he did was put on gloves -- that we believe was for food safety reasons, not for finger print issues -- entered the fridge, removed items and proceeded to cook up a storm," Mike said. "The individual knew his way around the kitchen in the dark."
"He knew food safety rules. He knew to change gloves frequently," he added. "He handled the pot really well. He sifted the pot like a pro."
After chowing down, he washed the pot, returned it to the rack and scrubbed down the stove, even picking up crumbs from the floor.
"This is stranger than fiction," Mike said. "Anybody who typically breaks in and enters -- they're in a rush to get in and out fast and not get caught. This person was happy to be here."
Palacios and Mike said at least he left a tip.
"Maybe the food was so good, he leave a dollar in the tip jar," Palacios said.
"This guy is good in a kitchen. If he wasn't breaking in, we would hire him," said Mike.
Despite losing $100 plus a day of business to sanitizing, they hope they've gained a customer.
"We'd like to think it's our food that brought them in, but hopefully next time they come in through the front door instead of the back," Mike said.
They've served up the surveillance video to Nassau County police and hope it will give the crook who cooks a taste of the criminal justice system.
Mike told Hall he does not believe the crime was committed by a former employee.
for more features.