Florida police arrested three men and charged them with grand theft after they allegedly targeted several restaurants and stole their cooking oil.
The Port Orange Police Department said officers worked with Dar-Pro corporate security specialists on Dec. 16, 2023 to track down three individuals suspected of stealing cooking oil.
The three men, police said, were targeting multiple restaurants in the area during the overnight hours.
The men were seen in a large box truck outfitted with a pump to allegedly support their operation in which they would back the truck up, roll out a hose and pump used cooking oil.
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Police said on Dec. 16, about 330 gallons were stolen, though it is believed they may be part of a larger organization responsible for thousands of dollars worth of stolen oil in the area.
Ultimately, police arrested 49-year-old Rui Lin of St. Johns, Florida; 35-year-old Yunqiu Chen of St. Augustine, Florida; and 42-year-old Zengyu Liu of Flushing, New York.
All three men were charged with grand theft.
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Police added that Lin was arrested last year in Flagler County, Florida, for a similar incident.
The theft of used cooking oil is becoming increasingly common.
In October, a Georgia Chick-fil-A had at least 700 gallons stolen from its dumpster on a monthly basis, which, according to a police report filed by the store’s manager, had a value of $2,000.
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Athens-Clarke County Police Department Lt. Jody Thompson told Fox 5 Atlanta at the time that theft of the oil, sometimes called “yellow grease,” is “not uncommon.”
“It can be refined and sold, and it can be used as fuel,” he said of the oil’s value. “There are several different markets for the oil that recyclers can utilize.”
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Restaurants will often sell their used oil to biodiesel companies, the Department of Homeland Security said in a press release issued after a group stole $3.9 million in cooking oil from several eateries across three states in 2019.
Fox News Digital’s Christine Coulter contributed to this report.
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