Barons boss: 'More needs to be done to tackle oil theft in pubs'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Lager-scale operation: Barons boss calls for more to be done to tackle oil theft in pubs (Credit: Getty/Yuji Kotani)
Lager-scale operation: Barons boss calls for more to be done to tackle oil theft in pubs (Credit: Getty/Yuji Kotani)

Related tags Barons Pub Company Health and safety Social responsibility

A Surrey-based pubco has urged hospitality firms impacted by cooking oil theft to speak out in a bid to help raise awareness of the effect it has on businesses.

Managing director of Barons Pub Company, Clive Price​, told The Morning Advertiser​ the business had continuously fallen victim to waste oil theft for the last decade, but that the thieves have recently started targeting fresh, unused oil as well.

Some thieves have even been “brazen” enough to carry out the crimes during trading hours, pretending to be the approved contractors for removing the oil, Price explained.


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The managing director added the most recent incident saw twelve 20-litre drums of oil stolen from The Cricketers pub in Horsell, which was worth in excess of £300.

He continued: “The thefts have increased in frequency and the price of oil has increased markedly in the last couple of years. 

“The value of a 20-litre drum used to be around £15 but is now typically more than double that.”

Wider issues 

However, the cost implications of the thefts extend much further than just the price of the oil, Price added, with criminal damage to property also carried out to access the products.

“Oil is generally a product that is best stored outside of the main building from a fire safety point of view, which the criminals are well aware of, and the thieves will cut off padlocks and damage doors or gates to gain access.

“A further cost to us is that we also miss out on the payment we would get for returning waste oil, which is around £3/£4 per 20-litres.

“There are also wider issues in that we are required to dispose of the oil responsibly, as well as what the thieves are ultimately using the oil for”, he said.

On top of this, the companies that should be collecting the waste oil could turn up and find “nothing to collect or less than there should be”, resulting in a further cost to them through wasted journeys and inefficient collection volumes, Price continued.

Moreover, the Barons​ boss said despite the thieves being “brazen” and Barons, which has 10 sites across Surrey, having logged each incident with local police, law enforcement has shown little interest in helping catch the oil thieves.

He said: “The police are uninterested in investigating the crime as stealing waste oil is perceived to be of low value, which perpetuates the problem and allows the thieves business model to survive.

“Even when we have reported the higher value crime of new oil being stolen we have had no interest from the police despite being able to provide perfect CCTV images of the perpetrators and number plates of the vehicles used.”

Lager-scale operation 

In light of the recent escalation of the criminal activity, Price told The MA​ he suspected the situation was not isolated to Barons or just the Surrey area and urged other operators that have suffered oil theft to speak up and help raise awareness of the impact it can have.

He concluded: “My view is that this is probably happening on a large scale. We would be very interested to hear from any other hospitality businesses who have encountered similar problems as we feel quite sure this could be a large-scale operation.”

Surrey Police Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Hicks also encouraged businesses owners and members of the community to continue reporting "suspicious behaviour" that could relate to cooking oil theft as building intelligence around this type of crime was "extremely important". 

He said: "Every report helps us to build up a picture of what’s going on in our community. We use all of this information to ensure we know the circumstances relating to this crime, and how we can best respond."

In addition, the inspector also urged firms to install CCTV cameras, security lighting and secure storage to help "protect businesses from this crime".  

Hicks continued: ​We take all reports of theft seriously, and will follow all reasonable lines of enquiry in order to get a positive outcome for a victim of crime.

"We know thefts of cooking oil can have a serious impact on local businesses, and we will continue to investigate these crimes thoroughly when they are reported to us.

"Unfortunately, there will be cases where there are no reasonable lines of enquiry, where we may not be able to identify those who have committed a crime."

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