New Theft: The Increased Danger New York Restaurants are Facing
It's hard enough to open a new restaurant in New York without a new and growing threat from criminals. Recent arrests however, show that the trend may not be slowing down.
The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow to many local businesses, but restaurant owners and employees were some of the most affected. Unfortunately, a crime that seems to be on the rise is literally draining dollars from the local food industry.
Restaurant Oil Theft in New York State
Two men in western New York were recently arrested after police pulled them over during a late-night "oil hunt". The suspects were driving a box truck that officers observed to be "covered in spilled cooking oil", and were allegedly breaking into local restaurants to siphon used oil. The haul was surprisingly valuable, according to the United States Attorney's Office, and was connected to a larger investigation:
Sheriffs’ Deputies encountered several of the defendants, in the middle of the night, pumping used cooking oil out of privately-owned holding tanks and into box trucks that contained a large storage tank... During the execution of search warrants, deputies discovered 12,461 gallons of unrefined oil, worth over $73,000
Thousands of Dollars for Used Cooking Oil
Furthermore, police discovered that nearly $60,000 worth of cooking oil had already been sold to a refinery in Pennsylvania. While this crime was committed hundreds of miles away from the Hudson Valley, this type of theft is no stranger to the area.
Cooking Oil Theft in the Hudson Valley, NY
Just last month, Michael's Diner in Kingston, NY was a victim of oil theft. Two men were arrested for stealing an estimated $1,000 worth of used cooking oil and were charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree. In October 2022, Jaeger House Restaurant in Dutchess County reported an oil theft as well.
Cooking oil is able to be refined and reused as vehicle fuel. Many criminals, including the alleged thieves in New York, are more than willing to take the risk of stealing the used oil for a quick payday when the oil is offloaded to a refinery.