Four Yorkshire country pubs have used cooking oil stolen - as police warn it ruins car engines

A spate of used cooking oil thefts have been reported at country pubs in North Yorkshire.

Three pubs in the Craven area of the Dales have been targeted in three days and an inn in the North York Moors earlier this month.

Used cooking oil is sought after by thieves because it can be sold as a sort of crude diesel fuel for cars - though it can cause damage to engines.

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North Yorkshire Police said: "The first incident occurred outside a pub in Cracoe, near Skipton, at around 3.20am on Thursday May 19.

"Unknown offenders stole a barrel of used cooking oil and a child’s toy sit-on car. A white van was seen near the property at the time of the incident.

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"Then on Saturday May 21 at around 8.30am, three men in a black 02-reg Mercedes Vito panel van made off empty handed after being challenged by staff members at the rear of a pub in Grassington.

"However, just after 2pm the same day, the black van arrived at the rear of a pub in Settle where a full barrel of used cooking oil was taken. It is believed it was poured into another container before it was placed in the van.

Cracoe was one of the villages targeted

"Enquiries are ongoing to identify those involved in the incidents.

"Witnesses or anyone with information about suspicious activity related to these incidents are urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room quoting reference number 12220088203."

The pub targeted in the North York Moors was the Coach House Inn at Rosedale Abbey. The empty containers were dumped on a lane near the village.

Publicans have been advised to request lockable barrels from their supplier and keep them indoors. Alarms can be installed in containers to detect sudden changes in liquid level.

Modern diesel engines have fuel injectors and emission control devices that can be at serious risk of clogging if oil is used as fuel.