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Grease is the Word: Thieves Have New Target

Updated: Tuesday, July 29 2014, 11:49 PM CDT
Downstate police  in O'Fallon bust a multi-state ring of used cooking oil stolen from St. Louis area restaurants.
Thefts of the used cooking oil have more than doubled since 2005, and it's happening right here in our area too.
"French
fries, horseshoes, tenderloins. We probably go through 45 cases of
fries a week so we use a lot of grease," said Rich Brockschmidt, owner
of Top Cat's Chill and Grill.
Then it's dumped in a storage tank.
"Ace Grease, they'll come and get it once every couple weeks and send you a check," said Brockschmidt.
For two years, Brockschmidt noticed the checks weren't coming in like they usually do.
"People
were taking it out of our grease trap so they were coming back down the
alley and sucking it all through a hole through the top," said
Brockschmidt.
It was happening to Ed McHenry, owner of Amber Jack  Alehouse, too.
 "They'd suck our container dry and then they'd just drive off," McHenry said.
That's because cooking oil, is a hot commodity.
"Biodiesel
is made form any triglyceride, which is a fancy word for a fat or an
oil so you can use virgin vegetable oil like soybean oil or canola oil.
You can also use waste oils like restaurant recycled oil," said Rebecca
Richardson, manager for the Illinois Soybean Association's biodiesel
projects.
Brockschmidt says he lost nearly $2,000 from thieves stealing his used grease.
"Food
costs are so high now they're up 35% since '09, it's hard enough to
make a dollar now. I mean every little thing helps. Everything,"
Brockschmidt said.
Brockschmidt added a lock to his grease storage tank and security cameras in the alley behind his restaurant.
McHenry upped security, too.
"They
enclosed the containers and they put bars in them to make them more
secure. More difficult for these theives to do it," said McHenry.
 Because a restaurant's trash is a thieve's treasure.
"You don't really think someone is going to take the grease, but they're doing it," said Brockschmidt.
Mahoney Environmental picks up the used cooking grease from Amber Jack Alehouse
They say the fryer oil is now worth about 40 cents per pound, nearly four times what it was just ten years ago.
That adds up to over 39 million dollars in lost revenue every year nationwide.  
Rebecca Richardson says ten years ago there was no value in used cooking oil, but with the advent of biodiesel, that's changed.Grease is the Word: Thieves Have New Target


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