BAKERSFIELD - Burglars taking jewelry and bank robberies are thefts you often hear about. But, lately thieves in Bakersfield are going for something a little more unconventional, kitchen grease from restaurants.
Kitchen grease is something nearly all restaurants generate, storing it inside or outside in a tub. It's garbage to many, but to a crook it's greasy gold.
Burgers, french fries, and bacon are just a few of the ingredients that make up lunch for a Checkers customer. But, they are also foods that generate a lot of grease.
The Bakersfield Checkers eatery stores its grease in a tub outside until its contracted grease recycling company, Darling International, Inc., comes to pick it up and turn it into animal feed and bio-diesel fuel.
"This business has been around for 100 years. We were green before green was green," said Jim Roth, General Manager for Dar Pro Solutions, a subsidiary of Darling International.
But, lately thieves are cashing in on this gooey goodness.
"We've noticed a high amount of theft in the Bakersfield area," said Roth.
The thieves suck it up into a storage container just like a recycling company, but messier.
"Usually they'll wreck some of the equipment and they'll also get the building pretty dirty as well," said Jess Rojo, Operating Partner at Checkers in northwest Bakersfield.
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, there have been 80 grease thefts since the start of this year. Rojo's Checkers has been hit three times.
"I guess if they can get away with it they will pretty much get what they want," said Rojo.
Those thieves make a nice profit selling an average night's haul. About 750 gallons of grease sells for $2,040. That's money that could have gone to the recycler and the restaurant.
"Absolutely, it's harmful to us," said Roth. That's why Darling, International is trying to put a plug on the problem.
"We need to eliminate these guys from coming into Bakersfield and eliminate this thief problem," said Roth.