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Buffalo Biodiesel suffers 4 UCO thefts in Rochester, New York, Dec. 22

Buffalo Biodiesel, a renewable energy company operating throughout the Northeast, announced that on or about Dec. 22 employees encountered four thefts across the Rochester, New York, area.

 


The thefts occurred at:



  • Overtime Bar and Grill—locks were broken and 50 percent of oil stolen from a 175-gallon vat



  • Great Wall—locks were broken and 50 percent of oil stolen from a 350-gallon vat



  • New Chinatown—locks were broken and 80 percent of oil stolen from a 350-gallon vat



  • Ricci’s Family Restaurant—locks were broken and [some] oil was stolen from a 350-gallon vat



In all theft incidents, individuals broke a lock and then are believed to have utilized a drum pump to remove used cooking oil (UCO) from the vats.

 


Buffalo Biodiesel is working with the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department for all incidents.



Buffalo Biodiesel operates across 12 states, mostly in the Northeast.

 


Over the past several years, theft of oil from the company has become a rampant problem.

 


In 2022, theft of oil amounted to lost revenue of over $15 million.

 


This includes an average of 268 thefts per month across 3,000-plus locations.

 


Losses in 2023 are estimated at $20 million to $25 million.

 


However, it isn’t just Buffalo Biodiesel losing money, it’s also restaurants that are not getting the extra income for selling their used oil.



“Getting robbed is not fair,” said Sumit Majumdar, president and CEO of Buffalo Biodiesel. “Our customers are hard-working business owners—a majority of them small business—who rely on every cent possible to be successful.”



While the theft of cooking oil might seem strange to some, taking these materials to resell means big bucks to others.



“They’ll aggregate that oil and sell it through a broker, so that way, it’s kind of washed,” Majumdar said. “And it’ll go off to a refinery, and they’re making a lot of money. Imagine a person in a van making $400,000 a year in cash—tax-free—all from cooking oil.”



The U.S. Attorney’s Office is aware of how rampant a problem this is nationally.



“Legitimate businesses, known renderers, collect used cooking oil from restaurants in exchange of compensation and sell it to refineries so that it can be processed and recycled,” wrote the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2019. “The rendering industry estimates that there is an annual loss of approximately $45 million to $75 million from the theft of used cooking oil.”



Buffalo Biodiesel has attempted to work with local, state and federal agencies to address this issue for years.



“Customers who have fallen victim to these thefts say that thieves are getting bolder, taking oil during regular business hours,” Majumdar said. “Part of the problem is lack of accountability even when apprehended by law enforcement. They’re getting a slap on the wrist. That, coupled with a lack of motivation to address the thefts by many police departments and district attorney’s offices, are why it’s expanding. That’s why it’s ballooning.”

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