grease theft rental truck

Rental Trucks For Cooking Oil Theft

Thieves across the country are increasingly using rental trucks for cooking oil theft. Using stolen credit card numbers, thieves of all stripes are renting trucks from companies such as U-haul and Home Depot and then employing those trucks in crimes of theft.

With the rise in the price of oil, used cooking oil that can be recycled into biodiesel fuel has become an enormous target of thieves. Used cooking oil theft has risen dramatically in recent years costing individual restaurants thousands of dollars.

Typically, restaurants contract with legitimate collectors of used cooking oil, such as D&W, to pick-up their UCO from a bin outside of the restaurant. Thieves, using nondescript trucks and vans and, increasingly, rental trucks, arrive during the night with bolt cutters, angle grinders, pumps and oil containers; they break into the oil bin and drain the oil into their truck.

They resell the used cooking oil they collect to dishonest aggregators of oil to be resold to biodiesel companies. In a rush and with little regard for the restaurant or community, they often spill oil leaving an expensive mess for restaurants to clean up.

Occasionally, thieves arrive during the daylight hours claiming to be subcontractors to legitimate used cooking oil collectors. Restaurant employees observing oil being stolen should not confront the thieves but rather call 911 and report a burglary in progress. Taking photos of the thieves and the license plate of the truck is a good idea if it can be done safely.

Rental trucks often facilitate these brazen crimes. One of the reasons rental trucks are being used more and more in crime is the prevalence of security cameras which can pick up and photograph a license plate

How can rental companies prevent their trucks from being used in the commission of crimes such as used cooking oil theft?

Some rental truck companies try to screen renters but some do not.

The FBI and Homeland Security have worked with truck rental companies to try to prevent trucks from being rented for use in terrorist attacks. It all comes down to front line employees detecting suspicious behavior, IDs, and documents when someone arrives to rent a truck. This video highlights how a front line sales employee can ask questions, gather information and perhaps prevent the renting of a truck for use in the commission of a crime (in this case a terrorist attack.)

Strengthening ID requirements for renters, training frontline employees to look for suspicious indicators are the primary methods for reducing the likelihood of renting a truck to someone intent on committing any crime. 

Used cooking oil thieves are typically repeat offenders. If a renter returns a truck messy with residual oil, the company can institute policies that ban the use of their trucks for oil collection of any kind. This can go a long way to protecting not only their trucks, but their community.

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