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As more cooking oil theft stories surface, a retired cop builds a case

In some of the incidents, suspects are accused of pumping oil from trucks or other containers to take it to another location and eventually resell it.
As more cooking oil theft stories surface, a retired cop builds a case
Posted at 4:43 PM, Dec 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-14 18:43:09-05

Cases of cooking oil theft have surfaced in headlines month after month. While the robberies might be perplexing for some, taking cooking oil to resell means business for others. 

In April, the Department of Justice said multiple suspects were arrested and charged in New York for conspiracy to transport and sell stolen goods across state lines. They face stiff penalties for stealing used cooking oil to possibly refine it into biodiesel fuel, which has a resale value of between $4 and $5 per gallon. 

In October, Scripps News reported on the theft of up to 800 gallons of oil from a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Georgia. In the early morning hours at a location in the city of Athens, police say suspects pulled up to a restaurant with a U-Haul truck to steal used oil from a dumpster. Multiple individuals were seen taking between 200 and 300 gallons of oil after damaging a lock and chain used to protect the stored oil. 

Just outside of Atlanta, in the community of Johns Creek, one retired police officer told police he didn't want to press charges after pursuing suspected cooking oil thieves. 

According to reports, he told Gwinnett County Police in Georgia he was pursuing a larger case after thieves allegedly took oil from a tank his company owned at a Zaxby's fast food restaurant location. 

SEE MORE: Thieves stole $2,000 in cooking oil from a Chick-fil-A, police say

This week, Appen Media reported that police followed the suspects' vehicle to later witness it pulling into another parking lot at a Longhorn’s Steakhouse in the early morning hours. The report said the vehicle had a sticker on the side which read, "Recycling Used Cooking Oil Collection."

Police stopped the driver who allegedly claimed he was not there to collect any cooking oil. Police said they weren't able to collect many more details about the men's intentions at the scene, and it wasn't clear if they had broken any laws. The situation does highlight a rising concern with business owners and law enforcement about how to keep the business of refining used cooking oil out of the black market. 

In July, two Miami men were arrested and accused of stealing hundreds of gallons of used cooking oil in the Florida Keys. The two men were witnessed siphoning used cooking oil from a restaurant after showing up there in an unmarked van. 

Christopher Herrmann, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice's Law School said in one report that it has become a business of sorts, with a 30-gallon container of recycled and filtered biodiesel fuel possibly selling for around $150 in the current market. 

John Musovic, a New York business owner, said in one report that after multiple men approached his business asking to clean his grease traps and take his oil, he felt it seemed like "a big mafia."


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