Police investigating cooking oil theft

·2 min read

Sep. 15—The Delaware County Sheriff's Department is investigating the theft of used cooking oil from Ming Moon Restaurant in Stamford.

According to an incident report, the department was notified of the theft in a letter from Buffalo Biodiesel Inc., in Tonawanda. A copy of the letter was also sent to The Daily Star, the Delaware County District Attorney's office, the State Police headquarters in Albany, the state Attorney General's office, the director of the FBInvestigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Attorney.

The letter stated the company was reporting "a break-in and/or theft of used cooking oil from our equipment" that occurred at the West Main Street restaurant in Stamford.

According the the incident report, Senior Investigator Christopher Erwin received the letter from Buffalo Biodiesel Inc. on Sept. 13. The report said Deputy Cody Tromblee interviewed Ming Moon Restaurant's owners Jian Wuzheng and Qing Chen about the theft on Sept. 13.

The report said the owners didn't see anyone steal the oil, they didn't know when it was stolen and Wuzheng said he didn't realize it was stolen until a representative from Buffalo Biodiesel told them the wire was broken.

When the waste-oil container was inspected Tuesday, it had been secured with a new cable and the container was not damaged. The report said there were no cameras in the area of restaurant or next door. It said the security camera at the Stamford Central School didn't have the right angle to get a shot of the restaurant.

Used cooking oil, also known as yellow grease, is bought and collected by Buffalo Biodiesel from restaurants across the state the letter said. It is then sold to companies that convert the grease into biodiesel, the company's website said. The company also sells biodiesel, which is as a cleaner alternative to diesel fuel, the website said.

According to the letter, "The theft of used cooking oil not only harms Buffalo Biodiesel Inc. for tens of millions of dollars each year—it also directly harms the individual restaurant owners who sell the oil to us."

The letter said there have been "multiple, publicly reported incidents throughout the areas we service."

According to sheriff's department Major John DeMeo, "This is the only cooking oil theft that has been reported to our agency." However, he said the thefts are a "big issue" in Ulster County.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.