Restaurants in North Carolina use a lot of grease, and they have to dispose of it at the end of the day. A few years ago, problems cropped up when people began stealing that grease. So, in 2012, lawmakers made a statement: They decided that anyone who stole $1,000 worth of grease or more could be given felony charges.
It's important to note that grease theft on any level is illegal, but it’s a misdemeanor if it's worth under $1,000.
Judges Didn't Take It Seriously
Used grease may sound like nothing but wasted material, but it's actually used in animal feed, soap, cosmetics and more. As such, many large companies are buying it, and thieves knew they'd be able to sell the used grease and generate a profit. Those who supported the bill said that theft was becoming quite common.
However, supporters noted that judges often didn't take these claims seriously. Those who owned restaurants and wanted to sell the grease on their own would come in with allegations, but judges would act like they had no business being in the courtroom. By making it a felony to steal more than $1,000 worth, lawmakers hoped that judges would realize it was a problem that needed to be dealt with properly.
Wondering how much this grease is going to bring in? Though the market changes with time, just like it does for most products, estimates range from 30 to 40 cents for every pound of grease. One man who runs a company that picks up the grease and turns it into fuel says that they pay by weight on pickup, but he thinks they may have lost around $10,000 worth of grease in just half a year. That's how quickly people were stealing it from the restaurants before pickup. He also said that he hoped the law would get the attention of law enforcement so they could work to catch the thieves, as he hadn't been able to.
Theft Allegations Are Very Real
While stealing used grease may not seem like a big deal, especially if employees are just taking it away when a shift ends, these laws show that the authorities take it seriously. Those who are facing felony charges must understand both their legal options and the potential severity of those charges.
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