The city had a good chuckle when news broke that thieves took Stephen Starr's used fryer grease form Buddakan. But Ralph Tommaso, CEO of Greenworks Holdings, said that it's becoming a serious problem for the 13,000 restaurants they service in the northeastern U.S.
"We regularly lose used cooking oil from about 1,000 of those restaurants every month. It's ridiculous," Tommaso told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The truck that was pulled over was found to have an elaborate pipe and reservoir system that could hold 600 gallons of purloined grease. Stolen logos from the bins used by the legitimate companies are then affixed to the truck to avoid suspicion. Tommaso estimates that the amount stolen from Buddakan could be sold for around $1,200 in today's market.
Tommaso mentioned a few other local restaurants that were hit, including chicken shops in Camden and Willingboro, a pizzeria and a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, a diner in Clifton Heights, and a Chinese restaurant and pizzeria in Glenolden. The illustrious Steak & Hoagie Factory on York Road (home of the Conveyor Combo, and some pretty decent cheesesteaks) also had their grease ganked.
Steps are being taken to stop the thieves, but putting locks on the bins could end up costing $6 million. But, it must be done, as filing police reports has generally been ineffective.
"It appears to be a victimless crime," said Tommaso. "And if we don't buy the grease, someone else will."
· Thieves Increasingly Target Restaurant Cooking Oil [Philly.com]