Oil thieves caught on camera in West Warwick

The Friday night dinner crowd is lively at Gel's Kitchen. But while the owner is serving up food, she's also playing crime fighter.

Angelica Penta is on a mission to catch some thieves who've hit her West Warwick restaurant regularly.

"Why do people have to steal, especially from a small business," she told NBC10.

The signs have been there for nearly two years since Penta has owned the place, and even before, she says. "Sometimes we come in in the morning and the barrel will be on the ground, the cover will be off."

So what's being stolen? Used Fry-o-lator oil that goes from the Fry-o-lator into the barrels out back.

Now Angelica has a key piece of evidence. Video from her surveillance cameras taken around 5:00am Friday shows a van pulling up, two men getting out, and apparently pumping oil out of a barrel into their truck.

The oil can be sold to be recycled. That's why Angelica puts in the barrels, so a company can come pick it up and then write her a check. When she wondered why she hadn't gotten a check in a while, the company told her there wasn't any oil. Angelica realized the problem was bigger than she thought, and now she's seen the proof. "They definitely practiced. You can tell they've definitely done this plenty of times," Penta said after seeing the video.

She had cameras installed about a month ago with the main goal of catching the people who were taking the oil. Penta said, "It's not even about the oil, it's not about the money, it's just the fact someone would steal from us. It upsets me.

Nonetheless, Angelica thinks she's been robbed of about a thousand dollars worth of oil and is now hoping the video will lead to some justice. "I don't wish bad upon anybody, but I do believe what goes around comes around. Don't steal from people."

Penta says she filed a police report and has been told oil theft has been a problem at other area restaurants, too.