TWO Darwen men have been arrested in connection with thefts of used cooking oil in the Lake District.

Police are investigating a series of thefts from restaurants and kitchens across the South Cumbria area.

And two men, one in his 30s and one in his 40s, from Darwen, have been arrested on suspicion of multiple thefts in connection with the incidents.

They are currently on bail until June and their vehicle has been seized in a secure compound for examination.

Usually, a restaurant has a contract with an oil collection company and only this company will have permission to collect their used cooking oil.

However, criminals are targeting kitchens and stealing the used cooking oil to sell on.

Since November, there have been 10 reported thefts to police. This equates to hundreds of pounds worth of cooking oil.

DC Matt Belshaw, who is leading the investigation, said: “In tough financial times, businesses are saving money wherever possible. Many have already realised the benefits of selling their used cooking oil back to oil companies, and so are retaining it in external insecure bowsers for collection.

“However, criminals are looking for convenient ways to make money and see used oil as an easy target.

“Restaurants and kitchens may not realise what a serious matter this is, but there are criminals making a lucrative business in stealing used oil and police take theft very seriously.”