NORWALK, Conn. Restaurant grease has become a black market commodity, leading to several thefts at Norwalk restaurants, Norwalk Police Sgt. Marc Lepore said. Police seized a tanker truck early Friday, which they say has been used in the thefts.
"We've been receiving complaints from restaurants and bars that their grease traps have been broken into and the grease taken," Lepore said. "We began the investigation a couple of days ago."
Police obtained surveillance video that had good footage of people stealing grease from a restaurant, which he did not identify. The crew of workers looked legitimate, he said. They were wearing reflective vests, but they did not have permission to take the grease.
Lepore said restaurants are paid 15- to 30-cents a gallon for grease, which is now used to make bio-fuel. Thieves can get $1.60 a gallon for the grease on the black market. Removing it doesn't take long with the right equipment. "This is a new trend," he said.
Patrol officers spotted the truck backing up to the grease box at a Connecticut Avenue restaurant at about 1 a.m. Friday. The people in the truck saw police and tried to drive away but were stopped. Because they weren't caught in the act they were released, but the truck was seized.
Police will obtain a warrant for their arrests, Lepore said. The truck is registered in New Jersey, and the people with the truck are New Jersey residents.
Norwalk police have been in contact with other area departments about the trend. Arrests have been made.
About a half-dozen Norwalk restaurants have complained about grease thefts, Lepore said. The investigation is ongoing and police would like to hear from others that have had problems. Anyone with information can call the detective bureau at 203-854-3031 and ask for Detective Kruger or Sgt. Lepore.
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