Dianna Seifert, manager of Shari's Restaurant at Delta Park, dumps grease in a bin behind
the restaurant in in Portland, Ore.

High Fuel Prices Spur Theft of Restaurant Grease

May 30, 2008 05:58 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
High oil prices have prompted thieves to steal used fryer grease from restaurants and convert it to biodiesel.

30-Second Summary

There’s a new crime wave sweeping the United States: fryer grease theft.

With the spike in gas prices around the country, and a new focus on alternative fuels, people are seeing opportunity in the used fryer grease restaurants discard.

Biodiesel, an alternative fuel, can be manufactured from vegetable oils and animal fats. “Fryer grease has become gold, said one restaurant owner. And just over a year ago, I had to pay someone to take it away.”

Suspects in grease theft cases include environmentally-conscious people (biodiesel is biodegradable), waste management firms trying to beat out their competition and people making money off high oil prices in the black market.

“It seems that no type of fuel—and no amount—is safe these days,” according to The Boston Globe. Fuel thefts are hard to investigate because there’s seldom much evidence for authorities to go on.

High fuel prices
have spurred multiple types of theft. In Bangor, Maine, authorities are facing a rash of cases involving drive-offs from gas stations, and instances where fuel has been siphoned cars, semi trucks and construction equipment.

“People are either using the fuel themselves and it’s gone, or they are selling it cheap,” one sheriff said. Law enforcement officials say the problem could get worse if fuel costs continue rising.

As for the grease problems, authorities don’t have any national statistics to determine if this is a serious matter or a problem that will fade with time.

Headline Links: ‘Bio-thieves’

Background: Consequences of high fuel prices

Reference: Biodiesel; vegetable oil as fuel

Related Topics: Other surprising thefts


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