Florida men accused of stealing 150 gallons of used cooking oil from restaurants

Two South Florida men were arrested in St. Petersburg, accused of stealing 150 gallons of used cooking oil from two restaurants. 

Wilmer Kindelan Durand, 49, and Julio Diaz Ona, 53, were arrested and charged with burglary. Both men are from Hialeah. 

"This was something that was well planned," St. Petersburg police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez said of the thefts, which happened at a Metro Diner and Cracker Barrel in the city.

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State laws regulate how restaurants must dispose of used cooking oil after frying food. Places, including Metro Diner, store the used cooking oil in a tank outside the restaurant. Then a third-party company picks it up.


"These tanks are in enclosed areas. Usually, they're fenced and locked," Fernandez said. 

Officers responded to the Metro Diner just before 1 a.m. Wednesday where witnesses saw the two men enter the "closed storage shed" containing the tank filled with used cooking oil.

"They came in a fully outfitted tanker truck and knew specifically where to go and how to suck this oil out of these protected tanks," Fernandez said.

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According to police, witnesses also watched Kindelan Durand and Diaz Ona steal used cooking oil in the same way at the Cracker Barrel, which is less than two miles away from Metro Diner. 


"In this case, they had stolen about 150 gallons. It's worth about $500," Fernandez said. "But, we are looking into whether they were doing this at any other restaurants in the area."

Darling Ingredients owns the tank at Metro Diner that the two men stole used cooking oil from. The Texas-based company collects the used cooking oil, and 55% of it is used to produce renewable diesel. 

"You're looking at a more valuable commodity than you've seen before. And with that, that increases theft," said Suann Guthrie, the senior vice president of sustainability, investor relations, and communications for Darling Ingredients. 

Darling Ingredients told FOX 13 it works closely with its 20,000 used cooking oil customers in Florida to minimize the number of thefts. 

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"We also provide our customers with a lot of different storage options that help prevent that theft. For example, indoor tanks: They have anti-theft technology but also have efficiency benefits as well," Guthrie said. 

Police said the two men are not cooperating, so there’s no information on their motive yet. According to Darling Ingredients, people often steal used cooking oil to sell it. 

"It's a very fractionated market. So, it's hard to tell where they would be selling it to," Guthrie said. 

FOX 13 reached out to the restaurants for comment, but have not heard back. 


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