A pair of New York City men are accused of stealing cooking oil from Hudson Valley restaurants.

On Thursday, June 9 around 3:36 a.m., members of the Saugerties Police Department stopped a Chevy Express Van bearing a New Jersey registration on Route 9W, Spaulding Lane in Saugerties. Police pulled the van over after allegedly observing the vehicle with a number of traffic-related equipment violations.

New York City Man Pulled Over in Ulster County, New York

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While speaking with the driver, later identified as 29-year-old Francis Salas of New York City, the officer detected a strong odor of oil coming from the vehicle, police say. The officer also noticed the passenger, identified as 30-year-old Miguel Guante-Feliz, also from New York City, was wearing latex gloves, according to the Saugerties Police Department.

New York City Men Accused of Stealing Cooking Oil From Saugerties, New York Restaurants

A further inspection of the vehicle by officers led to the discovery of a pumping system and numerous containers filled with used cooking oil in the back of the van, police say.

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"Over the past year throughout Ulster County, there have been numerous reports of used cooking oil stolen from various restaurants and fast-food establishments," the Saugerties Police Department stated in a press release.

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Food & Wine reports cooking oil is very valuable because the demand for grease has increased on the black market as the United States searches for more renewable fuel.

A further investigation led to the arrest of both New York City men. Both were charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. Salas, the driver, was additionally charged with several traffic infractions. Both individuals were processed at Saugerties Police Headquarters and then released on appearance tickets.

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