Move Over, Tide Detergent: Cooking Grease Is The New Hot Thing To Steal

If the black market was looking especially clean with a rash of Tide detergent thefts, it’s about to get super slick now: Thieves’ fingers are getting especially sticky with a new target — cooking grease.

WBZ Boston says two men pulled up to a local restaurant in Quincy, Mass. over the weekend and siphoned the grease right out of two large containers behind the building.

“They had their own unmarked car and they hopped in their car and took off,” a Quincy Police Detective said.

That grease has a value of about $450 and 500, and could sell on the black market as it’s valuable as an ingredient in bio-diesel fuel.

“This is all new, (a) new type of crime to us. So I guess we’ll be watching out for unmarked cube vans filled with Crisco,” said the police detective.

And lest you think it’s an isolated incident — there have been other very recent cooking grease thefts recently, like this one in Orange County, Calif. and another in Mount Laurel, Pa.

A sales manager from Greenlight BioFuels, a biodiesel tells that before, the company could cart away restaurant’s cooking grease for free. But now that fuel prices are up, restaurants are instead selling it to them.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, one billion gallons of the stuff is now being produced every year. As they say, it’s a hot commodity. And as a result, crooks are stealing the stuff. At peak times, it sells on the street for as much a $4 a gallon.

So when thieves slip away with the grease? It’s a big problem, says Greenlight BioFuels’ sales manager. He estimates they lose 20% – 40% of their oil to thieves.

Thieves Now Stealing Cooking Grease For Easy Money [CBS Boston]
Hot oil: Grease creates a lucrative new crime []


Edit Your Comment

  1. Maveleye says:

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  2. CrazyEyed says:

    I’m now in the mood for a juicy Cheeseburger and Fries.

  3. josephpr says:

    This is certainly not a new trend; it does seem to spike (or at least get attention) when fuel prices also spike, but I have seen reports of this for years.

    • phil says:

      Yes, this is hardly new. Back when WVO diesel was an relatively unknown trend, fans could get used restaurant oil for free. As more people began to understand the value of the oil, a market sprang up for it. Sadly, it’s time for restaurants to lock their waste oil containers…

    • RandomLetters says:

      I’m with you. I worked at a burger joint in a city of only about 6K people in the late 90s and we finally had to get a locking container to keep our waste grease and oil from being stolen.

  4. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Simpsons did it.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    “At peak times, it sells on the street for as much a $4 a gallon”

    That’s pretty funny since the average cost of diesel now is $3.95 dollars a gallon.
    Did eBay and PayPal somehow get involved in these street transactions?

    • kc2idf says:

      I agree that’s bizarre, especially since it takes 1 gallon of WVO, plus a quart of methanol and 250 mg of lye, ten hours processing time and energy to run agitators and heaters to produce 1 gallon of biodiesel. Maybe if the finished product were going for $4/gal, I could see it.

      • shepd says:

        (many) People are always willing to over pay to appear greener than the Jonses.

        • kc2idf says:

          Well, this is true. I do pay a little more for my electricity for this purpose, but there should be a sane limit to how much more. That is just brain-dead.

    • edman007 says:

      Last week I paid $4.07, about a month ago I paid $4.40, so those prices seem very reasonable to me when it was “at it’s peak”, yea, it’s probably slighty high, but not by a lot.

  6. FearTheCowboy says:

    “Street Pricing” for cooking oil sounds a lot like “Street Pricing” for drugs.

    Next we’ll hear how someone was busted with $500,000 in “oil”. *sigh*

  7. TheOnlyBob says:

    i like my car to smell like french fries when i start it.

    Not sure “Street Pricing” is the right phrase

  8. RandomLetters says:

    I’m going to be a grease kingpin.

  9. Dave B. says:

    “They had their own unmarked car and they hopped in their car and took off,” a Quincy Police Detective said.

    Is it just me or does this sentence not make any sense at all? Don’t unmarked cars usually refer to police cruisers? And why are police going to be watching for unmarked cube vans if the thieves had an unmarked car?

    • A.Mercer says:

      Maybe this is the Adam West Gotham where the criminals are supposed to drive wildly decorated vehicles that follow a theme based on the insane villian who leads the group?

    • shepd says:

      They were driving an ex-Police Interceptor, perhaps?

  10. Snape says:

    If you used any cooking grease in the early 2000’s, chances are it went through me. We had grease “extracting” operations in 40 states.

  11. RavenWarrior says:

    Be careful, those guys are bound to get into the shovel racket as well.

  12. ScandalMgr says:

    Its only theft if the siphoners take said grease from the receptacle placed by the biodiesel company.

    On the other hand, it is not theft if the restaurant owner, chef, or kitchen gopher allows these grease collectors access to the grease before it goes into the biodiesel company’s container.

  13. mysty says:

    Last time I checked, Mount Laurel was in New Jersey.

  14. dadelus says:

    My Dad lives in a very rural area and has been making his own biodiesel for the last few years. At first restaurants were happy to just let him take the used oil from their waste tanks because the garbage companies charged them by the pound for disposal.

    Over the years it’s become harder and harder for him to get his hands on it because, according to several managers, major oil companies have started signing contracts with all the restaurants in the area to buy their waste oil. So they aren’t allowed to let people take it anymore.

    • elangomatt says:

      “So they aren’t allowed to let people take it anymore.”

      I don’t think it is about not allowing people to take it anymore. It is more about the fact that they get money for the grease/oil so why give it away for free?

  15. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    The Unions in Wisconsin are going to need this grease.

    Oh, and one more thing: Scott Walker.

  16. Kensuke Nakamura says:

    I’m happy that recycling waste grease has become so profitable that it’s worth stealing. Alternative fuel has come a long way.

  17. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    This is just evidence of forward-thinking thieves. The knew they’d be stealing grease, so they stocked up on Tide first. They wanted to make sure they made a clean getaway.

    • pythonspam says:

      “They wanted to make sure they made a
      *puts on sunglasses*
      clean getaway.”


  18. quail says:

    The grease has more uses than just bio-diesel. One little known fact is that the businesses that clean the grease traps at restaurants rake in a good profit selling that sludge to big industry where it’s used in cosmetics, pet food, soaps, etc. This is what they did for years before bio-diesel became a big deal.

  19. AllanG54 says:

    Something similar to this happened on Long Island last week as well. I guess you have to follow the odor of French Fries to catch the culprits.

  20. HogwartsProfessor says:

    This isn’t new. It’s been happening for a long time. Some places have to actually lock up their grease.

  21. drjayphd says:

    Also, right here in beautiful TORRINGTON, CONNECTICUT! (thumbs up, cheap pop, shameless self-promotion) I might’ve written more on that case if I wasn’t up against the deadline.

  22. frodolives35 says:

    News at 11 Things that have value left unattended get stolen.

  23. Jen says:

    I have to find out which restaurant it was in the Q.