Thieves have siphoned hundreds of pounds of grease from a container behind a St. Louis restaurant, depriving the ownerof about $2,000 that a grease rendering company would have paid him, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s a big deal. There’s a huge underground out there for this stuff,” he said. Grease thefts have been on the rise since the introduction of biofuels to the market once dominated by animal feed and soap industries.
Combating the thefts is difficult because the penalties are minimal despite environmental and financial concerns, said Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association. “Others have said that this is like the new copper,” Cook said. “These thieves are getting more sophisticated. It’s a multimillion-dollar business for them.” “It’s a crime that nobody really cares about,” said John Kostelac, who co-owns a grease business with his brother. “When copper thieves get caught they are sent to prison, but when somebody gets caught stealing grease, they get a slap on the hand and are turned loose and are out stealing again.”