A plumber dashed into several fast-food restaurants, but what he was after wasn't on the menu, Queens authorities said Monday.
Richard Mirabile, 44, of upstate Congers, stole toilet and urinal handles and flushing mechanisms from men's restrooms at six Queens eateries between Nov. 23 and Dec. 28, Queens prosecutors said. He cleaned out two establishments twice — the Wendy's on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood on Nov. 23 and 26 and the Burger King on Astoria Boulevard in Astoria on Dec. 7 and again Friday, the day he was arrested on multiple burglary charges, authorities said.
"Bypassing the counter to order a quick meal," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a news release, "the defendant allegedly made a bee-line for the restrooms and exited minutes later with toilet flush fixtures stuffed in a bag."
Toilet flush fixtures are valued at about $250 each, authorities said.
Mirabile was arraigned Friday on charges of third-degree burglary, third- and fourth-degree criminal mischief, petty larceny and attempted petty larceny. Bail was set at $25,000 bond or $10,000 cash. He was represented by The Legal Aid Society, which could not be immediately reached Monday night. Mirabile and his family also could not be reached.
An NYPD investigation found he also targeted an Arby’s and a Wendy’s in Middle Village in mid-December; and a Bean & Bean coffee shop in Flushing and an Arby’s in Fresh Meadows, both on Wednesday, prosecutors said.
At the Burger King in Astoria, store manager Tulio Centeno said someone stole the handles Nov. 19, but there was no video to prove anything and he and his employees laughed over the idea of toilet handles as hot commodities.
But on Dec. 7, when the handles disappeared again, Centeno said, he showed employees that day's surveillance footage of the suspect and his minivan and had an employee work near the restroom, with advice to check inside every two minutes.
"We always had eyes checking all the people going into the restroom," Centeno said.
On Friday, Centeno said, he recognized the man on the surveillance camera and not long afterward, strange sounds came from the men's room, where he confronted the suspect.
"I said, 'What are you doing? This is the third time,’ ” Centeno said. "He started arguing with me, saying no, and I saw he was trying to get the piece out, hit it with a tool. Unbelievable."
Centeno said he then called the NYPD, and officers arrived two minutes later.