Private investigator probes spike in cooking oil thefts across Long Island

More than 5,000 Long Island restaurants have had their cooking oil stolen in the past 10 months, according to private investigator Patrick McCall.

News 12 Staff

Apr 9, 2023, 4:45 PM

Updated 406 days ago

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A private investigator is probing why cooking oil thefts are spiking across Long Island and what the suspects plan to do with the stolen substance.  
More than 5,000 Long Island restaurants have had their cooking oil stolen in the past 10 months, according to private investigator Patrick McCall. 
McCall recently helped police catch a Queens man who allegedly stole cooking oil from a Chick-Fil-A in Huntington Station. Police say the suspect siphoned the cooking oil into a rental truck and then resold it.  
McCall says cooking oil thefts are on the rise because the oil can be reprocessed into renewable diesel or biodiesel fuel and sold on the black market.  
“Basically, what's happening is thieves are coming out, usually at nighttime, coming to different restaurants, coming to different strip malls that have multiple food establishments…cutting a hole or using bolt cutters to cut the locks off the containers, inserting their hose and then sipping the oil from the containers,” he says.  
McCall says one stolen drum of cooking oil is worth about $900. That is money restaurant owners are losing to thieves because restaurants normally sell the cooking oil to legitimate oil processing facilities. 
Francesco Maola of Phil's Pizza in North Massapequa says his restaurant has been targeted in these thefts. After being tipped off by the oil recycling company he usually sells grease to, he discovered thieves stole hundreds of gallons of used cooking oil from the back of his business over the past year.
“We use about 150 gallons of oil a week; we can't put it down the drain. We have to discard in those bins,” he said. “They come pick it up, contacted us and they said, ‘where's the oil?’ 
Maola plans to install new locks and surveillance cameras to keep his business safe. 
“It's crazy. Ever since COVID, people are more on edge and trying to make extra money,” he said.  
In addition to increasing security to prevent the crime, investigators advise restaurants to ensure the logo on the trucks collecting used oil is the same company they contract with. If it doesn’t match, they say it’s most likely a theft.  


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