Police are investigating a series of thefts of used cooking oil from restaurants and kitchens across the South Cumbria area.
Usually, a restaurant will have a contract with an oil collection company and only this company will have permission to collect their used cooking oil. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that criminals are targeting kitchens and stealing the used cooking oil to sell on for their own gain.
Since November 2011 there have been 10 reported thefts to police. This equates to hundreds of pounds worth of cooking oil.
DC Matt Belshaw is leading the investigation. He said: “In tough financial times businesses are saving money wherever possible. Many have already realised the benefits of selling their used cooking oil back to oil companies, and so are retaining it in external insecure bowsers for collection.
“However, criminals are looking for convenient ways to make money and see used oil as an easy target. We find that often businesses are not protecting their used oil investment as well as they may with other foodstuffs, and criminals are taking advantage of this.
“Restaurants and kitchens may not realise what a serious matter this is, but there are criminals making a lucrative business in stealing used oil and police take theft very seriously. If you have been a victim of this crime and have not reported it to the police previously, then you should contact the police as soon as possible.”
Police have arrested two men aged in their 30s and 40s from the Darwen, Lancashire area on suspicion of multiple thefts in connection with these incidents. They are currently on bail until June and their vehicle has been seized in a secure compound for examination.
Anyone with information about this crime series should call DC Matt Belshaw in Kendal CID on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.