Florida Law Enforcement Nabs Thieves in Multi-Thousand-Dollar Cooking Oil Caper

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Florida police have arrested three guys who are suspected of grand theft after they targeted several eateries and took used cooking oil. This is an odd but increasingly common crime. 

The Port Orange Police Department collaborated with Dar-Pro corporate security specialists on December 16, 2023, to track down the suspects engaged in this unusual criminal activity.

The three men, operating in the overnight hours, utilized a large box truck equipped with a pump for their operation. The modus operandi involved backing the truck up to restaurants, rolling out a hose, and pumping out used cooking oil. 

On the date of their arrest, approximately 330 gallons of cooking oil were stolen, but authorities suspect they may be part of a larger organization responsible for thousands of dollars worth of stolen oil in the area.

The suspects were identified as 49-year-old Rui Lin from St. Johns, Florida; 35-year-old Yunqiu Chen from St. Augustine, Florida; and 42-year-old Zengyu Liu from Flushing, New York. All three were charged with grand theft, with Lin having a previous arrest in Flagler County, Florida, for a similar incident last year.

Florida’s Law Enforcement Challenges

florida-law-enforcement-nabs-thieves-in-multi-thousand-dollar-cooking-oil-caper
Florida police have arrested three guys who are suspected of grand theft after they targeted several eateries and took used cooking oil. This is an odd but increasingly common crime.

The theft of used cooking oil, commonly referred to as yellow grease, is on the rise, with criminals recognizing its value in various markets. 

In October, a Chick-fil-A in Georgia reported at least 700 gallons stolen monthly from its dumpster, valued at $2,000, shedding light on the economic incentive behind such thefts.

Lt. Jody Thompson of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department explained that stolen cooking oil, when refined, can be sold or used as fuel, attracting different markets for recyclers to exploit. 

The Department of Homeland Security noted that restaurants often sell their used oil to biodiesel companies, highlighting the lucrative nature of this seemingly peculiar criminal activity.

This incident is not isolated, as demonstrated by a 2019 case where a group stole $3.9 million in cooking oil from eateries across three states. 

It is recommended that businesses strengthen their security protocols to protect their precious cooking oil supplies, while Florida law enforcement struggles to contain this growing trend.

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