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Thieves Are Stealing Grease from Restaurants Now

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Beware! Grease thieves are on the loose.

San Francisco restaurants are the latest establishments to fall prey to these thieves. They come in the night, and siphon off used cooking oil stored in metal barrels behind the restaurants. When recyclers come to take the waste off their hands, it's already gone.

Used cooking oil is worth about 50 cents a gallon.

Grease recyclers go to great lengths to convince restaurants to save this liquid gold, explains David Levinson of Got Grease. They filter the used cooking oil and sell it to brokers. Those brokers then sell it on the market as biodiesel -- fuel for vehicles that have been converted to burn vegetable oil.

Grease thieves can earn a "decent amount of money," Levinson told CBS San Francisco. It's become such a hot commodity that the number of thefts continues to increase. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has even had to step in.

If you recycle your used cooking oil, it might be time to look into some protection. Render, a magazine dedicated to recycling animal by-products and cooking oil, suggests a theft-proof lid. You could also try moving the barrels behind a locked gate and giving your recycler a key.

And if you don't recycle your cooking oil? Then you don't have to worry about grease thieves. However, you might want to reconsider recycling. Not only is it good for the environment, renderers often pay a pretty penny. Plus, you have to get rid of the stuff anyway.

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