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Transportation | Ecotrope

Sniffing Out The Black Market For Grease

The Wall Street Journal reports on officers who sniff out stolen restaurant grease.

As demand grows for biofuel, the value of restaurant grease has grown and spawned “organized grease-poaching rings,” the story says. The price has doubled to more than 40 cents a pound in recent years.

The legitimate collectors of used cooking oil are pushing back against “lard larceny” by training people like Detective Sergeant J.D. Gille to look for – and smell for – signs of thievery:

“But old-oil owners are fighting back, and Mr. Gille is part of that effort. He had been trained by security officers from Darling International Inc., an Irving, Texas-based rendering company, in investigating cooking-oil crimes. The officers taught him to look for open-back trucks carrying plastic containers with fluid inside that barely moved.

They taught him to watch for the foot soldiers that grease gangs often use to filch the stuff. And they taught him to sniff: Grease, they told him, tends to retain the odor of whatever it fried.”

One biofuel company uses software to flag potential grease theft targets and has filed 400 police reports about oil thefts in Maryland since July.

Meanwhile, as reported separately for Myanville, there’s an attorney in Houston who’s now known as “The Grease Lawyer” for his work defending grease thieves:

“I had a guy who was paid with a bottle of vodka and a couple cartons of cigarettes to steal grease,” Jaworski told Minyanville in an interview. “I also get a lot of calls from biodiesel companies wanting to know how to protect themselves from people stealing their grease.”



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