Mendez Flores also told detectives he had stolen between 800 and 900 gallons of grease the previous week from about seven businesses in northern Virginia, according to the search warrant.
A phone number could not be located for Mendez Flores, and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment. Detectives filed the search warrant to examine the contents of Mendez Flores’s phone.
Gittins said Mendez Flores’s group has been on his radar for at least a couple of years, but it was difficult to catch them in the act. LeVan said grease thieves typically work in the early morning hours and sometimes wear protective coveralls or construction vests to create the impression they are on legitimate business.
LeVan said six grease thefts have been reported in Fairfax County over the past year, but he suspects many more go unreported. LeVan said he is exploring whether Mendez Flores may be tied to any of the other cases.
“It’s like people stealing copper and taking it to recycle to get money,” LeVan said.