NORWALK, Conn. – A pair of New Yorkers, who were siphoning cooking grease from a large tank outside of Swanky Frank's on Connecticut Avenue early Friday, were arrested on larceny and related charges, according to Norwalk Police.
An officer on patrol during the overnight shift spotted a Ford van backed up to the 200-gallon tank with a green hose connected to it, police said.
When the officer asked the two men what they were doing, they said they worked for a Yonkers, N.Y.-based building maintenance company, police said. But they could not produce any paperwork to show that they were allowed to siphon the grease, so they were arrested, police said.
According to Lou Renzuelli, owner of popular hotdog and hamburger stand, the theft of cooking grease has become more prevalent in recent years because it can be lucrative.
Unfiltered grease can be sold for $2 to $4 a gallon, according to police, and with 200 gallons in the Swanky Frank's tank, you do the math.
“I asked the company I deal with if this is a big problem,” said Renzuelli. “The guy told me, ‘You have no idea how big this has become.’”
He said he spends about $100 a week on vegetable oil for his fryers, and he pours several gallons into the tank when he’s done. He receives $40 a week from Darling International for the unfiltered grease.
He believes someone has been pilfering his grease for a while because his representative from Darling told him that the amount has been lighter than in the past.
“If they’re willing to give me $40 a week for several gallons, it must be worth something,” said Renzuelli.
Arrested were Rodrigo Avila, 28, of West 211th Street, New York City, and Johnny Flores, 54, of Stanley Street, Yonkers. They were charged with misdemeanor fifth-degree larceny, conspiracy and criminal trespass and were released after posting $1,000 bonds.
They are scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior on July 5.
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