Police are urging pubs, restaurants and takeaways to increase vigilance and security following spate of used cooking oil theft incidents.
Officers in the Craven District are investigating three offences in the space of three days.
Although a motive has not yet been established, it is known that used cooking oil has been targeted by organised criminals in other parts of the UK to use in diesel cars.
The first incident occurred outside a pub in Cracoe, near Skipton, at around 3.20am on Thursday (19 May 2022).
Unknown offenders stole a barrel of used cooking oil and a child’s toy sit-on car. A white van was seen near the property at the time of the incident.
Then on Saturday (21 May 2022) at around 8.30am, three men in a black 02-reg Mercedes Vito panel van made off empty handed after being challenged by staff members at the rear of a pub in Grassington.
However, just after 2pm the same day, the black van arrived at the rear of a pub in Settle where a full barrel of used cooking oil was taken. It is believed it was poured into another container before it was placed in the van.
Enquiries are ongoing to identify those involved in the incidents.
Witnesses or anyone with information about suspicious activity related to these incidents are urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room quoting reference number 12220088203.
If you would prefer to remain anonymous, details can be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 quoting the same reference number.
Steps to help protect used cooking oil from criminals
In the meantime, pubs, restaurants and takeaways are advised to make sure their premises are secure and used cooking oil is kept in a safe place before it is collected for recycling.
Ask suppliers for locking barrels. Many cooking oil barrels have a securing ring around the top which can be padlocked to prevent siphoning
Ensure CCTV cameras and security lighting are installed to help deter thieves
Keep used oil barrels indoors if it is safe do so, or ensure they are out of reach of opportunistic thieves
Regular monitoring of used cooking oil levels will indicate if a theft has occurred. Alarms can also be installed in containers if it falls below a certain level
Lastly, motorists filling their tanks with such products are warned that it is likely to be very harmful to modern diesel engines with fuel injectors and emission control devices put at serious risk of clogging.