‘Grease thieves’ attempt to steal used cooking oil from local restaurant

The spent grease can fry up a small fortune in the biodiesel industry,
‘Grease thieves’ attempt to steal used cooking oil from local restaurant
‘Grease thieves’ attempt to steal used cooking oil from local restaurant
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 3:54 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A local restauranteur is speaking out after ‘grease thieves’ attempted to steal reserves of spent cooking oil from his restaurant.

Tai Lee, co-owner of Urban Table, says he caught two people on his security camera attempting to access their container of used cooking oil.

“That has not happened in 17 years of operating here in this town but I guess things do change sometimes,” Lee said.

According to the business owner, he had never even heard of the crime until it happened to him Friday. He doesn’t think any other restaurants in the area have fallen victim.

Although the thieves weren’t successful, grease disposal experts say it’s essential to keep used oil properly secured.

“So, make sure you guys lock up the dumpsters, you know, especially with locks themselves. Have cameras point in there at all times because you never know,” Jose Bermudez, owner of Buddies Grease Service, said.

Oftentimes, grease thieves will pretend to be a part of a legitimate company. Lee said he’s briefed his staff on what to look for, but still can’t believe what happened.

Both Lee and Bermudez said it comes down to money. Grease thieves treat cooking oil like it’s liquid gold - the spent grease can fry up a small fortune from the biodiesel industry.

“The used cooking oil has a high resale value,” Bermudez said.

Biodiesel companies convert the used cooking oil into alternative fuel, and Bermudez said they’ll pay a premium for it.

Right now, the oil sells for around $2.50 per gallon. Some of the revenue goes back to the restaurants looking to recycle their used oil. When the oil is stolen, so is a stream of income.

“If a restaurant’s really busy, they’re losing now, you know, probably from two to $300 from the used cooking oil itself,” Bermudez said.

Although Urban Table doesn’t bring in nearly as much from their spent oil, they’re still feeling the impact of the grease thieves’ attempt.

“Someone’s trespassing, and then of course in doing so, they were able to successfully damage some of our landscape,” Lee said.

Lee said a police report was filed with the College Station Police Department.