Rash of cooking oil thefts hits Florida city
For the third time in as many months, Beef O’Brady's in Port Charlotte has been targeted not for their wings, but for their cooking oil.
According to a sheriff’s office report, the owner called detectives after he noticed his recycled oil tank out back was bone dry. Thieves managed to steal over 300 gallons of oil with a resale value of more than $1,100. Phil Cerciello, the owner of Phil's 41 in Punta Gorda, knows about the oil thefts. His business has been hit four times in the last five months. "Five times. I lost a thousand dollars. So that's a nice chunk of change," he said.
Cerciello went as far as to install video cameras to catch the thieves, and in late March it paid off.
"We caught them on camera,” he said. “The make of the truck. The guy’s obviously not close enough to pick them out of a lineup. But we got them on camera."
The thieves pull up, siphon out the oil and drive away. One of the thieves, in an act of defiance, urinated on Ceriello's dumpster before leaving.
"It's worth money because they make bio fuels out of it,” Cerciello said. “And as gas prices keep rising, that item is going to be an item that obviously they want to steal."