Restaurant grease is liquid gold to some thieves. Because of its use in the biofuel industry, leftover cooking grease can be a lucrative substance and an attractive target for criminals. The National Renderers Association estimates it (legally) collects about 4.4 billion pounds of used cooking oil in the U.S. and Canada each year, but Bloomberg reported in 2017 that cooking-grease thefts were on the rise as the U.S. energy industry demanded more used oil. This month, cops have apprehended at least one thief: Alvaro Mendez Flores was arrested and confessed to stealing hundreds of gallons of grease from a Burger King in Annandale, Virginia.
Mendez Flores was reportedly working for a boss who would pay him 25 cents a gallon, which added up to $300-$400 per grease heist. The Associated Press reports he used a siphon and a 1,600-gallon tank to steal the grease from a Burger King grease dumpsters in April; he was caught on surveillance video, which showed him using a generator to pump the grease on April 4 around 3:30 a.m.
Stolen grease is a massive, messy problem for America’s restaurants, as businesses normally hire a service to remove the grease from their premises and sell it for them. An attorney for one such service, Valley Proteins Inc., told WJLA he’s seen several hundred grease thefts in his seven years on the job. Remember folks, if you see a shifty person covered in grease, carrying an oily hose, driving a fat-slickened truck, alert your local authorities.