The Benihana restaurant at 920 Merchants Conciurse in Westbury, shown...

The Benihana restaurant at 920 Merchants Conciurse in Westbury, shown on Saturday, April 8, 2023, is one of at least 8 restaurants in Nassau County where thefts of used cooking oil took place in recent days. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Two more people are facing criminal charges after allegedly stealing used cooking oil from Long Island restaurants — this time in Nassau County.

Defendants Melvin Howell, 55, of Brooklyn, and Rodney Lofton, 49, of Queens, are charged in connection with cooking oil thefts from at least eight restaurants, Nassau police said in a Saturday news release.

There have been more than 100 incidents of cooking oil theft so far this year on the Island, Nassau and Suffolk police told Newsday earlier this week.

The fuels created by the recycled oil fetch between $4.66 and $5.22 a gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Thieves across the country steal used cooking oil from eateries, which typically contract with authorized haulers, and resell the oil on the black market.

On Wednesday, Suffolk police arrested Hector Castrol-Espinal, 23, of Queens, and charged him with stealing cooking oil at least five times from Chick-fil-A in Huntington Station, police said previously.

Castrol-Espinal allegedly siphoned about 500 gallons of used cooking oil into a rented truck before reselling it.

In the Nassau case, police officers responded Friday to a report of a used cooking oil larceny in progress. The officers spotted a 2006 Isuzu box truck matching the description of a vehicle connected with the crime and stopped the driver, according to police.

They arrested Howell and Lofton and charged each with eight counts of petit larceny and grand larceny, the news release said. Howell also faces charges of possessing burglary tools and criminal mischief.

Police said they issued desk appearance tickets for the defendants to appear May 2 in Hempstead District Court.

They listed nine restaurants as victims of the alleged thefts: Leonard’s Palazzo in Great Neck, Stresa Restaurant in Manhasset, IHOP in Manhasset, The Monster Crab in Carle Place, FYHRE Hibachi Sushi Lounge in Carle Place, Mint Restaurant & Lounge in Garden City, The Cheesecake Factory in Westbury, Chick-fil-A in Westbury and Benihana in Westbury.

Police didn't immediately say why the defendants each face eight counts of petit and grand larceny charges when nine restaurants allegedly were targeted.

Phone numbers for the defendants were unavailable, and defense attorneys couldn't be identified for comment.

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