Finger nicking good: Thieves stole 220,000 litres of cooking oil from KFC stores to sell on as biodiesel
Stuart Bradley and Matthew Walker masterminded nationwide scamThe pair stole cooking oil from stores and sold it on as biodieselThe duo have been jailed two years each for 'complex and elaborate' scam
20:22 GMT, 18 December 2012
Two men who stole 220,000 litres of cooking oil from KFC stores and supermarkets across the UK and sold it on as biodiesel have been jailed for a combined total of four years.
Scheming Stuart Bradley, 38, and Matthew Walker, 27, masterminded a nationwide scam described by one senior detective as one of the most 'complex and elaborate' crimes he had ever investigated.
The duo struck at dozens of KFC branches as well as Asda, Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets and stole up to 147,000 worth of cooking oil which they siphoned into their vans.
Guilty: Matthew Walker, left, and Stuart Bradley, right, have been jailed for two years each for the 'complex and elaborate' scam of stealing used cooking oil and selling it on as biodiesel fuel
Posing as waste removal staff for an oil recycling company, they then went on to sell the stolen oil at a premium to a processing plant who converted it into eco-friendly biodiesel.
Police were first alerted to their suspicious activities in February this year after an alarm on an oil tanker at Merry Hill Shopping Centre, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, was activated.
The friends claimed to have been looking for somewhere to eat but backtracked when officers discovered a vat of foul-smelling used cooking oil in the back of their Transit van.
Although the pair backtracked and claimed they actually worked for a waste company, they were promptly arrested.
Officers then linked them to 13 unsolved offences -dating from November 2011 to February 2012 – up and down the UK.
Bradley and Walker were charged and
appeared at Dudley Magistrates' Court in July but when they were released
on bail pending their trial they went on to commit further crimes at
the three supermarkets.
Other cases: Police were first alerted to the pair's activities in February and linked them to 13 unsolved offences since the previous November
Scam: The pair struck at branches of KFC along with Asda, Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets
They were promptly re-arrested and last Friday the pair, both from Stourport, Worcestershire, were jailed for two years each at Wolverhampton Crown Court after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to steal.
Detective Constable Gareth Homer, from West Midlands Police, who led the investigation, said: 'This was one of the most elaborate crimes and complex investigations I have ever undertaken.
'On the face of it, the crimes of Bradley and Walker may seem harmless enough, but with so many businesses that employ local people struggling to make ends meet in these tough times, sustained losses on this scale could have very well meant they went under resulting in lost jobs.'
Theft: The pair posed as waste removal staff before selling the stolen oil at a premium to a processing plant