The Growing Problem Of Fast Food Grease Theft

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Every once in a while, the news has some special report about a hippie driving around the country in a retrofitted VW bus that runs on fast food grease.

But there is a dark side. Grease theft is a problem.

News OK 6: ULSA, OK — Tulsa Police arrested a suspect overnight for stealing grease. 

At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, police received a tip that a man was taking grease from the KFC restaurant at 21st and Garnett. 

By the time officers arrived on scene, the suspect had left, but police say he was spotted a short time later behind a business at 71st and Garnett and was arrested. 

Police Cpl. Bruce Burton says grease theft is a big problem locally. 

We wondered what this is all about. Turns out NYT wrote about it last year when oil prices were peakigng:

Outside Seattle, cooking oil rustling has become such a problem that the owners of the Olympia Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Arlington, Washington, are considering using a surveillance camera to keep watch on its 50-gallon grease barrel. Nick Damianidis, an owner, said the barrel had been hit seven or eight times since last summer by siphoners who strike in the night.

“Fryer grease has become gold,” Damianidis said. “And just over a year ago, I had to pay someone to take it away.”

Much to the surprise of Damianidis and many other people, processed fryer oil, which is called yellow grease, is actually not trash. The grease is traded on the booming commodities market. Its value has increased in recent months to historic highs, driven by the even higher prices of gas and ethanol, making it an ever more popular form of biodiesel to fuel cars and trucks.

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