Slip Sliding Away: Grease Thieves Strike East Tennessee
by Jamie Satterfield (Knoxnews.com) Every month in the Southeast, thieves rob Griffin Industries of $1.6 million.
So why does Mike McCombs struggle to get law enforcers to care? Because what law enforcement sees as greasy waste is actually liquid gold.
“A lot of police officers, through no fault of their own, do not realize this is not trash,” McCombs said. “This is a commodity.”
Used cooking oil, which restaurant owners just a decade ago would give away or even pay to have someone haul off, is now worth big bucks thanks to a rise in demand and price for a product into which it can be converted — biodiesel.
Griffin, a Kentucky-based firm, is a subsidiary of Darling International and has contracts in 21 states, including Tennessee, to collect used cooking oil from restaurants. Restaurants, in turn, earn either cash or rebates on future cooking oil purchases. Griffin then recycles the grease into a variety of products, including animal feed additives, fertilizers and biodiesel.
… That makes lard larceny a growing problem across the nation, so much so that firms like Griffin have created loss prevention units staffed by retired investigators like McCombs, a former Texas law enforcer.
…What the pair learned is that grease sucked out of local containers may be winding up in the hands of crime syndicates overseas, where biodiesel is an even hotter commodity than in the U.S.
“What concerned me is that organized crime has gotten into this,” Burchett said. “It will drive the price up and make it tougher and tougher to stop.” READ MORE