Planet Pizza owner says 3 men stole cooking oil from restaurant

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Used cooking oil has become a hot commodity for thieves to steal, and a Norwalk restaurant owner caught a few of them in the act at his business Wednesday morning.

The owner of Planet Pizza, Dave Kuban, got the license plate of the alleged thieves and reported the incident to the police.

Kuban says around 7 a.m., he heard a vehicle pull in behind the restaurant and back up to where he stores the used cooking oil. Kuban initially thought it was the company that hauls off the grease and recycles it into biofuel. But when he checked the security camera, he saw an unfamiliar vehicle.

"The truck that normally comes looks like a big septic truck that normally sucks it out," said Kuban. "This was a regular -- it looked like a painter's van. They opened up the back door, they used the crowbar to pry open the back of it because it has a lock on it."

Kuban says three men used a hose to suck out the grease -- grease he usually gets up to $40 a month for.

"I said what company are you with, because I knew it wasn't our legit company and he looks over and he starts reading the name and he butchered it," said Kuban. "And I was like, "Oh all right, you got a card on you? Let me call in and make sure it's legit.'"

Kuban said the suspects then took off, but not before he was able to snap a few photos.

This is happening to more restaurants across the country. A rising demand for biofuel has driven up the price of grease and the incentive to steal it.
The North American Renderers Association estimates around $66.5 million worth of used cooking oil was stolen over the course of a year.

Kuban says he knows of several other Norwalk businesses targeted over the last few years. Police departments nearby including Stamford, Darien and Westport have reported similar incidents.

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