On July 16, 2012, Cheng Zheng was convicted by a jury in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia on charges of misdemeanor larceny of used cooking grease from a Valley Proteins, Inc. container, as well as felony possession of burglar’s tools – the truck, pump, and tank he used in the theft. As a result of the felony conviction, Fairfax County seized the truck, depriving Zheng the opportunity to use it in the future to obtain used cooking oil. Following trial, the jury recommended a sentence of six months in jail and a $500 fine. Sentencing by the judge was scheduled for September.
The successful conviction was obtained because of an alert Valley Proteins grease route truck driver who witnessed the theft from a company-owned used cooking oil tank at a customer location in Annandale, VA, and reported it to Fairfax County Police while the theft was in progress. The jury trial followed several months of pre-trial legal maneuvering and education of both police detectives and prosecutors by Valley Proteins employees on the value of used cooking oil and the magnitude of the used cooking oil theft problem across the rendering industry in the United States. The seizure of the truck used in the theft provides an important precedent and future model for police and prosecutors to follow in seeking to put grease thieves out of business.
In an effort to empower Valley Proteins employees to assist the company in fighting grease theft, management instituted a bonus program that pays $100 to any employee who provides information on grease theft sufficient to generate a police report. This requires identifying the thief, describing the vehicle used in the theft, including license number and markings, and the time and place of the theft. Benji Dorsey, the Baltimore, MD, driver involved in the Fairfax County case, was the first recipient of the grease theft-reporting bonus.
Valley Proteins President J.J. Smith has committed substantial company resources and personnel to combating grease theft and educating and assisting law enforcement agencies, demonstrating the priority the company places on reduction of product losses due to theft.
October 2012 RENDER | back