Monett police arrested several people in the theft of diesel fuel and grease from restaurants yesterday.
According to Police Chief Tim Schweder, officers received a call at 3:30 a.m. on July 20 from the Harlin Fruit Company reporting persons had been caught stealing diesel fuel from vehicles at the company's building at 1602 N. 17th St.
The suspects left before officers arrived. They were traced heading south on 16th Street and into the field by Alexander Construction at Glenn St. The suspects drove a pickup truck carrying a 1,000-gallon tank down into the recycling center and attempted to cross Kelly Creek where there was no bridge.
The pickup became hung up on a rock bed. The suspects, identified as a 37-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, both from Springfield, attempted to flee on foot and were apprehended by officers.
When the truck became stuck, the tank rolled off the back and into the creek, spilling most of its contents. City crews were called around 4 a.m. to help with the clean-up. Sanitation superintendent Russ Balmas said a team from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources had been dispatched to manage the hazardous materials spill into the dry creek.
The suspects were placed on a 24-hour hold in the city jail pending the filing of charges.
A truck marked as a maintenance vehicle for septic tanks was stopped by Detective George Daoud. According to Schweder, the truck was being used to steal used grease from grease pits at local restaurants and not for the advertised purpose.
Schweder said thefts of restaurant grease is a longstanding problem. Restaurants sell the grease to legitimate recycling businesses, including bio-diesel manufacturers. Thieves tend to use a pumping device at night to access grease supplies then sell it to recyclers. Grease has risen from having no value to selling for 30 cent per pound.
The subjects and their truck were later released. Schweder said even though the truck was obviously not being used for septic services, no victim had been located or the contents traced back to a specific source.
Balmas reported the city park department suffered the loss of a gator vehicle and tools worth around $5,000 on the night of June 11.
While an improved maintenance barn was being erected at the cemetery, equipment was moved to an outdoor area by the standpipe behind a locked gate. Thieves cut the gate lock, loaded equipment onto a 16-foot utility trailer and hauled the trailer into North Park, where they broke into the green maintenance barn.
The gator tractor from the green barn and tools were also loaded onto the trailer and taken. The theft was discovered the morning of June 12. Balmas said the trailer was found on June 13 south of Aurora off Highway 39. An investigation into the theft is continuing.