Cooking oil scheme causes Hazmat scare in Old City

    Two men are in custody today after an anonymous call reporting suspicious activity led police to a parking lot near 3rd and Market streets in Old City.

    Officers arrived around 5 a.m. Saturday to find a white van carrying big black drums parked in the lot. They blocked off the streets and firefighters evacuated the residences and at least one business within a city block, ABC6 reports. Residents were sent to an area diner while authorities sorted out the situation.

    Officials determined that the 300 gallon drums contained nothing but cooking oil.

    “We called Hazmat to make sure the oil was not explosive,” said Philadelphia Police Lt. Michael Young.

    CBS3 reports that when 6th District officers arrived on location they stopped two men. They determined that the van contained “an elaborate setup to recover cooking oil,” said Lt. Young.

    He said that the men were taking the oil from containers in the lot and were set to store it in the big drums in the back of the van and that the evacuation was just officials being extra cautious.

    The two men are now in custody as police try to determine the motivation behind the theft.

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