If you have any used grease laying around the house, this might be a good time to lock it up in a safe. Why? According to the Associated Press, it’s one of the hottest new targets among thieves! What’s the lure of stinky old frying grease? It all has to do with the eco-friendly biofuel movement. As any tree-hugging green-thumb can tell you, grease can be converted into diesel fuel – which can be processed and used in your car. The technology’s been around for decades and up until recently, just about anyone could collect the liquid leftovers from their favorite fast food restaurant – often for free – and create biofuel in their own backyard! As you know, fuel prices have skyrocketed in recent years and so has the demand for biofuels. So restaurants – which go through thousands of gallons of French fry oil each month – have found they can make extra money by selling their used grease.

How big is the demand? According to the National Biodiesel Board, biofuel production topped 500 MILLION gallons last year – an increase of more than 600% from just two years ago! Unfortunately, all that extra demand has caught the attention of thieves – who manufacture biofuel illegally. In the past year, thousands of restaurants have reported a spike in break-ins as crooks siphon the used grease out of storage barrels or steal the barrels altogether! Thieves are taking the grease before legitimate companies can come in and haul it away. In fact, one grease hauler in Seattle has been losing 30,000 gallons of grease each month from their restaurant clients. It’s bad enough that an executive in San Francisco describes the biofuel business as “a war zone!”

So far, experts aren’t sure how to solve the grease theft problem. Karri Ving, who runs a collection program in San Francisco, says unless people lock down every trashcan in the city, thefts are going to keep happening! So, the next time you dump a pan of bacon grease in the trash, now you’ll know: That’s some valuable oil you’re pouring down the drain.