Grease truck driver can’t slip past vehicle citations

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A grease truck stopped for a moving violation about 3 a.m. April 5 drew police attention to its suspected involvement in the theft of used cooking grease from the alley behind Boomers Bar and Grill, 16006 Southfield Road.

The driver, who was unable to produce a route manifest, said his boss told him to drive around Allen Park and look for grease containers.

Officers were unable to confirm an actual larceny at the time, so the driver was released with several moving violations, including one for nonfunctional front center marking lights and one for bald tires.

When police contacted the business owner about 11 a.m. April 7, he said that approximately 1,200 pounds of used cooking grease worth about $260 was taken, and that the last authorized pickup was on March 16.

Experts say the rise in energy prices have caused a subsequent rise in the valued of used yellow grease, the type used in restaurants. Ten years ago, restaurant owners usually had to pay to have grease removed from their waste containers. Now it is being converted into fuel, and thieves see an opportunity in the rising commodities market.

Experts say because grease typically is stored behind restaurants, it also presents a crime of opportunity.

At issue is whether grease is considered trash. While some grease thieves are simply out to make a profit on the black market, other times rival salvage firms want to cut into competitors’ profits.

A small percentage are believed to be converting used yellow grease to fuel.