Business owner: Thieves taking used cooking oil from restaurants in Albert Lea
Posted on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 6:01 pm
A local business owner reported the theft of about 1,000 pounds of vegetable oil Thursday to Albert Lea police in what they say is a common crime across the country.
Dweezle Bordeaux, owner of American Oil for 15 years, buys used oil from community restaurants. It pays restaurants $1 per gallon to refine the oil and sell it back to the biodiesel industry.
It says it goes through roughly 1.2 million pounds of oil a year.
Bordo said he normally waits for one of the restaurants he works at to call and say the oil is ready for pick-up, but no one did.
Owner Shannon also drove by Bleachers Sports Bar & Grill, one of the restaurants where he worked, and noticed that their outdoor storage was empty.
So he decided to check the oil himself at all of his restaurants and found that the storage containers there — at Thesma Fox Pub & Grill, The Elbow Room, Wok-N-Roll and Al’s Burgers and Chicken — were empty. .
Suspecting the thief, he went to other restaurants in the city where he was not working and did the same thing there.
“Usually when they steal one, they steal the whole town, and that’s what happened, they stole the whole town,” Bordo said.
He said about $5,000 worth of the estimated 1,000 gallons stolen from the restaurants alone was stolen from him. He estimated the thief could have gotten away with at least $10,000 in produce when added in at other restaurants in the city.
Bordeaux said that the theft of vegetable oil is not a new thing and that he has experienced it for many years.
The thieves put in a U-Haul truck — just like a U-Haul — and six or eight 250-gallon containers and drive from town to town to fill up the truck.
The thieves then work to convert it into biodiesel by eventually selling it to someone else.
The crime has been reported in other states across the country, including organized theft rings and federal indictments for millions in oil embezzlement.
Bordo said Albert Lea police took a report of the theft and told officers to be on the lookout if they see boxcars near these restaurants at night. He said the thieves could make several cities in one night.
He said he tried to be proactive by locking the containers, and tried to empty the containers before they were more than half full.
Meanwhile, he was upset that his livelihood had been taken away from him.
“If I can’t collect, I can’t get paid, and the restaurant obviously can’t be paid,” he said.