People are stealing old grease from restaurants for a very surprising reason

In what we’re definitely dubbing the most bizarre news of the day, Bloomberg has reported that crooks might be stealing old grease from your favorite restaurants. Sure, stealing old vegetable oil that has been used to cook chicken nuggets, french fries, and yummy fried chicken sounds a little gross, but according to reports, it’s surprisingly very lucrative.

The market for “golden goo,” as old restaurant grease is apparently known, has seen exponential growth recently due to refiners processing record amounts of grease to comply with government mandates for renewable fuels.

In fact, 30% of yellow grease now gets turned into biofuel, enough to make restaurants’ vats of grease the centerpiece of a thriving $75 million black market industry. Roughly 113 million pounds of grease now get processed into biofuel each month, and the price it fetches has jumped 230% since 2000.

It’s kind of like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Bart started draining local restaurants of their used fryer oil and reselling it for a profit — talk about grease bandits.

Sumit Majumdar, who runs a grease-collection business in New York state, tells Bloomberg,

“It’s like crack money. There’s an actual market for stolen oil. It’s almost like a pawn shop or scrap-metal business.

Grease theft isn’t a new crime, either; thefts were reported as early as 2010. As USA Today noted, restaurants might have at one time appreciated the help ridding themselves of waste, but now that biofuel companies will pay them for their old oil, thieves are cutting into restaurants’ profit margins. Plus, as the weather gets warmer, thefts are expected increase.

Sheesh! Who knew dirty oil was so covetable.