The feds busted a used cooking oil theft ring, like a greasy version of The Wire

The ring operated for five years and made off with over $4 million worth of so-called yellow grease.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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Even old cooking oil from restaurants is now a target of theft, thanks to the growing popularity of biodiesel.

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There are some crimes that, though you wouldn't condone them, make total sense. For example, someone leaves their gorgeous vintage parked with the keys in it? Well, it makes sense that some opportunist would come along and swipe it. Other crimes only make sense when you think about them for a minute.

The latter is undoubtedly the case with a ring of used cooking oil thieves that were recently busted after several years, and millions of dollars worth of "yellow grease" were purloined, according to a report published Friday by the Associated Press. Of all the things you'd want to take, used cooking oil seems like it would be low on the priority list, but it was actually kind of a brilliant crime.

See, thanks to the proliferation of biodiesel, prices for a 100-pound container of the stuff have gone up to $25. By itself, that may not seem like much, but used oil isn't exactly loose diamonds or uncut cocaine, so the security surrounding it is minimal. It's also commonly available from restaurants everywhere, and this makes the crime low-risk and repeatable.

In the end, this ring of thieves plied their trade across North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia for five years without being caught and made off with $4 million worth of oil. Obviously, Ocean's 11 these guys are not, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless.

The suspects are currently looking at a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in jail, thanks to the money laundering and conspiracy charges being tacked on to the theft charges.

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