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Bury St Edmunds restaurant businesses Gastrono-me and CASA thwart used cooking oil thieves



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Hospitality businesses are being warned to watch out for used cooking oil thieves after two restaurants disturbed unknown men attempting to steal the waste product.

Bury St Edmunds eateries Gastrono-me and CASA each interrupted an unauthorised man on their premises as he tried to take their used cooking oil two weeks ago.

The businesses already have their own arrangements with contractors for the safe disposal of the waste material.

Rick Breckenridge, operations manager at Gastrono-me, disturbed used cooking oil thieves and wants to warn other businesses. Picture: Mecha Morton
Rick Breckenridge, operations manager at Gastrono-me, disturbed used cooking oil thieves and wants to warn other businesses. Picture: Mecha Morton

Rick Breckenridge, operations manager at Gastrono-me, said the theft of used cooking oil was a ‘common happening’ in central London, where he used to work, but he was ‘a little taken aback’ that it could happen in the market town.

He said: “You have to wonder to yourself, I don’t know where the oil is going and what they are using that waste oil for and where that money is going. It’s a little bit sinister.”

He said there had also been a man in a van and they had begun transferring their oil into a huge vat before they were stopped. In the case of CASA, nothing was taken.

Rick Breckenridge, from Gastrono-me, said he was surprised this had happened in Bury St Edmunds, but it was common in central London. Picture: Mecha Morton
Rick Breckenridge, from Gastrono-me, said he was surprised this had happened in Bury St Edmunds, but it was common in central London. Picture: Mecha Morton

The restaurants only receive a small amount for their used cooking oil – which is turned into biofuel – but Maria Broadbent, of CASA, said it was ‘important’ waste products from businesses were disposed of ‘professionally and legitimately’.

She said: “We have to follow so many rules and regulations and pay so much to have everything done properly so it really galls me people are operating illegally.

“And also you don’t want people under false pretenses in the back areas of your business.”

She said it had happened a handful of times over the past three years, with the restaurant being caught out on a couple of occasions.

Maria Broadbent, of CASA, who also stopped an unauthorised person from taking their used cooking oil. Picture: Mecha Morton
Maria Broadbent, of CASA, who also stopped an unauthorised person from taking their used cooking oil. Picture: Mecha Morton

Both Ms Broadbent, chair of the Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), and Mr Breckenridge want to make other hospitality businesses aware of the issue.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the BID, also urged businesses to take steps to prevent it happening.

Mr Cordell said: “The old phrase of where there’s muck there’s brass appears very apparent here.

“These two businesses are taking responsible steps to dispose of their waste products and yet someone is trying to come in and steal the oil and presumably either use it themselves or resell it to others as biofuel.

“With the cost-of-living crisis and particularly the high cost of fossil fuels I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this commodity would be worth stealing but clearly it is.”

Maria Broadbent, of Casa, said it 'galled' her that people were operating illegally. Picture: Mecha Morton
Maria Broadbent, of Casa, said it 'galled' her that people were operating illegally. Picture: Mecha Morton

CASA has not reported what happened to police and Mr Breckenridge said he would do so once he got CCTV images.

Theft of used cooking oil has been reported across the country but a spokesperson for Suffolk police said they were not aware of any reports locally.

Suffolk Trading Standards also said they had not had any such reports.