A Long Island restaurant owner says he thought about offering Stephan Tirado a job — even though Nassau County police say the Freeport resident broke into his taqueria and stole food and cash last month.
Authorities say Tirado, 27, burglarized several businesses, including Nelly’s Taqueria in Hicksville, by prying open doors or windows during a monthlong burglary spree that ended Wednesday, when he was arrested by Nassau County police detectives.
Tirado, charged with eight counts of burglary and two counts of attempted burglary, was arraigned Thursday in First District Court in Hempstead, where bail was set at $25,000. He is scheduled to return to court Monday.
“Maybe he heard we had good Mexican food,” Nelly’s owner Will Colon said laughing Thursday. “Maybe he read about it in Newsday.”
As Newsday reported last month, security video showed a young man enter the kitchen at Nelly’s Taqueria, one of Newsday’s Top 100 restaurants, on Oct. 3, hours after the restaurant had closed. The man put on a pair of food-service gloves and heated a pot on the stove before he went into the dining room, where he used a hammer to open a cash register. The suspect returned to the kitchen and cooked up a meal of beans, chicken and shrimp, displaying culinary skills that suggest he may have been a kitchen professional, Colon said.
“If he didn’t break in we could consider hiring him,” Colon said. “The guy has some skills.”
Police say Tirado broke into Nelly’s the night before as well, on Oct. 2. Colon said video showed the man spent about two hours in the restaurant without taking any money or cooking any meals — but he did take food from the kitchen.
Police say Tirado burglarized several Nassau County businesses in the weeks that followed, including a Westbury Home Depot on Oct. 22 and a K&G Store in East Garden City on Oct. 28. He attempted to break into a Westbury branch of New York Community Bank on Oct. 22 and a Boston Market in Westbury on Nov. 1, police said.
Colon praised Nassau police for ending the burglary spree. “I was very impressed with Nassau police catching this guy,” he said. “They worked very hard on this case. They checked in on us to make sure we didn’t have other problems.”
Colon said he was also impressed with the intruder, who whipped up his Oct. 3 meal in the dark, the kitchen illuminated by a neon insect trap lamp. When he finished his meal, Colon said, the suspect followed strict kitchen protocol by covering containers of food tightly with plastic wrap and returning them to the refrigerator. He washed and dried the pots he had used and wiped down counters.
“He must have cleaned up because he liked the food,” Colon said.