SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Suffolk County police have arrested a man they say stole cooking oil from a fast food restaurant multiple times this year.
Hector Castrol-Espinal, 23, is charged with stealing cooking oil from a Chick-fil-A in Huntington Station.
Police say he has done it on five separate occasions since January.
The suspect siphoned oil into a rented truck and then resold the oil, authorities say.
It turns out the oil can be used for a host of other things besides cooking -- such as in products that use biodiesel.
"The oil is re-processed and sold at a cheaper rate, either to be used for cooking oil or sometimes heating, or used in cosmetics or other uses for the re-processed oil," said Suffolk County Police Department Deputy Chief William Scrima said.
Police say it's a frustrating and escalating problem which they suspect is rising just like inflation. Companies like E.S.I in Yaphank that process cooking oil stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as the prices go up and thieves ramp up their illegal trade.
The industry calls it "Yellow Grease" and thieves are taking $75 million of it a year, according to the National Renderers Association.
One-hundred pounds of cooking oil goes for up to $62 as of March 31, which is up from $59 this time last year. In June of 2019 it was $25.
A business in New Jersey is even tracking the thefts in the Garden State.
Authorities believe more businesses have been targeted. If anyone believes they have been a victim of the crime, make a police report by calling 631-852-COPS.
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