Gloucestershire pub workers 'attacked' as thieves target barrels of used cooking oil

Used cooking oil can be turned into biodiesel Credit: PA

Pubs and restaurants are being warned about a rising number of barrels of cooking oil being stolen.

Thieves are targeting the barrels, which are either being stored for use in the future or are full of used oil, and often pose as legitimate collectors.

Wayne Childs, landlord of the Kings Arms in Newent, Gloucestershire, said: “It is a massive problem, we've had to up our security massively.

"We've had to buy an oil safe basically to store our waste oil now because we've had gates damaged and I've had staff assaulted.”

Pub owners say the barrels themselves can be worth several hundred pounds.

Gloucestershire Police say the thieves often arrive in vans where they can store large drums in the rear of the vehicle.

Mr Childs told ITV News West Country: “They're turning it into biodiesel, we've got a licensed company from Birmingham that comes and collects our waste oil.

"At present day we get 30p a litre and that can go up to 60p sometimes, so it gets processed by proper companies, but the oil thieves are doing it illegally.”

He added that the problem has been going on for several years, but is getting much worse - particularly because insurance companies say the oil barrels are a waste product and not covered by insurance.

Mr Childs said: “Obviously we don't see the money coming back and we've seen hospitality trade struggling so much, which is a present.

"I don't know any pub operators actually say, oh, it's rosy days because it isn't, you know, we are really all our my knees at the moment and obviously it's a direct theft from us.”

Gloucestershire Police have issued specific guidance to pub, restaurant and other food sellers who may have large barrels of oil on their premises:

  • Make sure you and your staff members know who your grease collector is, what vehicles they use and what uniforms they wear.

  • Know what days of the week your grease collector attends.

  • Ask for ID if you believe people claiming to be contractors are suspicious.

  • Keep used oil safely locked up in a storage area while you await collection.

  • Mark, tag or write on your oil containers. This can help police to identify them if they are stolen and later recovered.

  • Consider fitting an alarm to any external storage facility.

  • Check your oil levels frequently to ensure they aren’t fluctuating drastically between service visits.

  • Contact your supplier about the possibility of lockable tubs and drums to prevent siphoning.

  • Consider appropriate security lighting and CCTV. Even fitting dummy CCTV cameras and displaying CCTV signage may be enough to act as a deterrent.