GREASE MONKEY NABBED BY DEPUTIES – Caught red-handed hosing up the old chicken grease in a midnight theft scheme, says Convict Sheriff Steve Hall
LEXINGTON PARK, MD. – What do you call a guy conducting unauthorized withdrawals from a used grease container behind a greasy spoon joint? How about a ‘grease monkey’?
St. Mary’s County’s Convict Sheriff Steve Hall reports that K-9 Deputy First Class Phillip Henry was conducting a premise check at the Lexington Village shopping center in Lexington Park early Wednesday morning when he came upon a suspicious vehicle and individual behind the Golden Chicken restaurant at the 46400 block of Lexington Village Way.
Police alleged that Hamsel Lugo Peralta, 19, of Silver Spring, told Patrol Deputy Thomas Deinert that he was taking used oil grease from the Valley Proteins dumpster at the rear of the business. A grease dumpster behind another nearby restaurant, Pizza Boli’s, also had two locks broken.
Convict Sheriff Hall reports that Peralta said he was able to open the top door of Pizza Boli’s dumpster and inserted a hose in to suck the grease out into a 330-gallon container inside the vehicle. When caught by deputies, Peralta was allegedly attempting to breach the dumpster behind Golden Chicken.
According to the report from Hall, It is estimated that the two 330-gallon tanks in the vehicle would be worth $3,000 after being sold to Valley Proteins. The firm and others contract to remove waste oil from fryers and cooking as required by the Health Department and to prevent the dumping of the grease down the drain and clogging up sewers of the Metropolitan Commission, which serves St. Mary’s County. The recycling of grease also is a revenue booster for businesses.
Peralta was arrested by Deputy Deinert and transported to the St. Mary’s County Jail in Leonardtown, where he was charged with Theft Scheme: $1,500 to under $25,000; Theft Scheme: $100 to under $1,500; Theft: $1,500 to under $25,000; Theft: $100 to under $1,500 and Destruction of Property under $500.
The theft of waste grease became so severe that the Maryland General Assembly slid right into the rescue with a Maryland Waste Grease Transporters Program and a registration portal on the Maryland Department of Agricultural website in 2011. The program requires that waste grease haulers register, pay a fee of $100 per vehicle, upload proof of insurance in the amount of $1 million, and download a certificate for each vehicle.
If the alleged purloiner of used grease, Hamsel Peralta, was stealing grease in the daylight, no cop in St. Mary’s County would ever have left his seat in a chicken joint to check on a commercial truck parked in the rear sucking grease from a large drum. The midnight shift is the haunt of rookie cops looking for arrests, and Peralta couldn’t have found a better way to be discovered than to be out in the wee hours of the morning.
The market for stolen grease was created with a federal mandate in 2007 for renewable fuels, and requirements of biodiesel, along with the price of gasoline, drove the demand for ‘liquid gold’, according to Mahoney Environmental, which published a guide for restaurants on how to prevent kitchen grease theft. Here are some of their tips:
If you are a restaurant owner looking to stop thieves from stealing your “liquid gold,” the best way is to work with a cooking oil management service provider like Mahoney Environmental to design and install containers for the waste cooking oil that only Mahoney can access.
If, for some reason, you can’t do that, here are a few other tips that will help protect your used cooking oil and give you peace of mind:
- Make sure that the grease level in your used oil storage containers isn’t fluctuating between visits
- Monitor the area where the used cooking oil is stored – install security cameras
- Hide the oil containers from view by installing a fence around them
- If possible, install an alarm that sends notifications when oil levels drop unexpectedly
- Know the people who collect your oil
- Notify the police when you see something out of the ordinary
If you are a restaurant owner or a manager looking for ways to stop thieves from stealing your used cooking oil or looking for ways to save money by working with a company that manages cooking oil disposal, contact Mahoney Environmental today.
The National Renderers Association estimates that up to $75 million worth of used cooking oil is stolen each year. The restaurant loses the money the renderer it normally works with would have paid for the grease. The renderer, of course, also loses profits it would have made from the grease. But when thieves make off with grease, they can cause spills and damage containers. These will need to be cleaned and repaired as well. In some cases, the messes left by thieves could even result in fines for the restaurant.
D & W Alternative Energy also reports that grease thieves are often involved in other crimes, and according to Homeland Security, one band of thieves was also involved in money laundering.
Valley Proteins faces worker litigation.
One of the largest rendering companies in the United States, Valley Proteins is part of a $10 billion-a-year industry that takes scraps from slaughterhouses and melts them down into liquid grease and powdered byproducts that it then sells back to meat processing facilities or pet food manufacturers. It also collects millions of pounds of used cooking oil each week from restaurants to sell for animal feeds or conversion into biofuels. MORE