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Calif. bill would increase penalties for grease theft

The California Legislature approved a bill Monday that would increase penalties for stealing a restaurant's used cooking oil, which has become a hot commodity for thieves because it can fetch hundreds of dollars due to its ability to be converted into clean-burning biofuel.

The bill, AB1566, is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Fetching around $3 a pound, a truckload of used cooking oil can bring in as much as $600 at a grease recycling center, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The surge in grease thefts has been compared to the rise in copper thefts when prices for the metal skyrocketed.

The California Restaurant Association estimates grease thefts are costing restaurants millions of dollars. Restaurants and state-licensed grease haulers earn a profit from selling and transporting the grease.

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