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Cooking oil goes missing

Photo by Sharra Klug

Photo by Sharra Klug

COVINGTON -- A new kind of crime wave has hit Covington, leaving Covington Police officers somewhat perplexed. Eleven restaurants are missing their used cooking oil.

According to a CPD incident report, the crime first came to light when an employee of Darling International, which specializes in used cooking oil removal services and grease trap maintenance, went to Thomas Buffet on Emory Street and found the 300-gallon vat at the restaurant empty. The employee reportedly found a similar situation at Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Arby's, Dairy Queen, Mandarin Palace, New China, Hong Kong King Buffet, Royal Palace, Bradley's BBQ and Bangkok Grill.

The restaurants contract with the company to dispose of their used cooking oil and clean their grease traps. In turn, Darling recycles the oil.

It was estimated there were 250-plus gallons of oil in the Thomas Buffet vat, but a total loss has not yet been reported by Darling International.

CPD Detective D.J. Seals said the crimes occurred sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. Tuesday. Video surveillance tape shows two white men involved in the heist, but there are no suspects at this time.

"They definitely had to know where they're going to sell it and what they're going to do with it," Seals said, adding that the oil is big business to companies like Darling, which recycle the oil for products ranging from pet food to fuel.

Like metal recycling companies, Seal said detectives have found that there are companies where individuals can take used cooking oil and be paid on the spot.

"It just goes to prove if somebody feels they can make money off something, they'll do their best to get it. Most people wouldn't want to touch it because it's nasty stuff," he said.

Seals acknowledged the theft of used cooking oil was a new one to the CPD, but they would learn quickly.

"It's something new we're going to have to start looking into, but we'll definitely do that. It's something our officers will be watching," he said. "A lot of people think it's trash, but apparently it's treasure to somebody."