Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Slippery thieves make off with spent cooking oil

Thomas Hawn saw a pickup pull in behind the Rose & Crown restaurant and greeted the driver a few months back.

What's up? Hawn asked the man, who had grabbed a hose from his truck and stuck it in a freezer-sized bin filled with used fry oil.

The man said the owner gave him the okay to take the grease.

But Hawn, the head chef at the restaurant, knew another company had a long-term contract. So he stepped inside to call owner Al Anderson.

When Hawn returned a minute later, the bin was empty and the man was gone.

"The guy was quite brazen," said Anderson, 61.

The Rose & Crown, 12850 Walsingham Road, Largo, is not alone. Grease thefts nationwide have been on the rise. And in June, the St. Petersburg Times reported that similar incidents have occurred in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

"We lose oil daily," said Frank DiBenedetto, who owns FCS Inc., a plumbing and pumping company near Largo that picks up oil at several hundred Central Florida restaurants. "You can't babysit all of the containers."

And two weeks ago, FCS had to replace a 300-gallon grease barrel at a Largo recycling center with a tamper proof container because someone had pilfered used grease there.

At least twice, FCS workers had noticed about 2 feet of cooking oil in the Largo recycling drum, DiBenedetto said. But when they went back to retrieve the grease, it was gone, he said.

DiBenedetto says he thinks he knows why folks are taking the grease.

"Local people are converting that oil into fuel for themselves," he said.

People can buy kits online that can convert diesel engines to run on filtered fryer oil. There are also filtering methods available online, DiBenedetto said, but they're not necessarily efficient.

Peggy Mathews, corporate spokeswoman for biodiesel producer Agri-Source Fuels, said there's a key challenge for people who try to make biodiesel in their garage: producing a quality product that won't harm engines.

"I can guarantee it will not be up to standards," said Mathews, whose company makes biodiesel from chicken fat.

Restaurants routinely store used grease in containers and have contracts with companies that pick it up.

Collection companies use the grease in a variety of ways. They may convert it into biodiesel fuel or process it into glazes for animal feed or byproducts in paint or plastics.

Years ago, people used to have to pay to have grease picked up, Anderson said. Now, Griffin Industries, which collects his oil, pays him about $100 a month.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or 445-4155.

Slippery thieves make off with spent cooking oil 08/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.