'Grease' is the word: Used-oil thefts rise along with food prices

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Producer's Notes:

Detective Larry Findley didn't want to be on the radio. But the gumshoe's desire to educate people about grease theft trumped his suspicion of what he calls "media types."

The demand for grease (used cooking oil) is at an all-time high. That's due in part to the popularity of biofuels, which can be made at home using conversion kits. Two years ago, a pound of grease went for 11 cents, now it's 33.

Larry travels across the Midwest and South, tracking thieves who are ripping off his employer, Griffin Industries. Using trucks with suction hoses or plain old pickle barrels, thieves are a thorn in the side of renderers like Griffin that recycle restaurant grease legally.

And while it may seem humorous, make no mistake: Larry Findley is a real detective. His informants wear wires, he stakes out restaurant parking lots and he's tailed a family that has been stealing grease for three generations.

So, if you are thinking about gassing up the car using homemade diesel, take care that it came from a legitimate operator. As Larry says, "Theft is theft. The minute that grease hits a Griffin container, we own it."

— Noel King

Contributors:

Leo Duran and Noel King

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