Greasy Grabbers Are Affecting Local Restaurants

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Friday, January 28, 2010

Wichita Police arrested two out-of-state men after a restaurant manager questioned them for showing up around 5:30 Thursday morning to pump their used cooking oil.

Investigators believe that the two men made about six to seven stops because their 500 gallon container was about 80 percent filled.

"People in the restaurant business really don't know what's going on and that's how they're getting away with it. I'm estimating that they probably do it ten times to every one time someone calls the police on them," said Lt. Mike Hennessy, Wichita Police Dept.

Restaurants are usually paid by legitimate companies to pick up their used cooking oil. Companies can process the grease into animal feed and biodiesel.

The president of a trade association of companies that buy used restaurant oil said the problem of grease thefts is growing.

"It has grown because of the popularity and the demand for this product because the price or the value of it," said Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association. "When it's further processed into yellow grease, it has a greater value. And price has gone up considerably in the last few months."

The two Missouri men are under Wichita Police custody for theft. They are identified as Abbey Walter of Everton and Dennis J. Fleming of Springfield.

Police say legitimate haulers will not operate during odd hours of the night and will be able to produce paperwork that authorizes them to pick up the grease.

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