This weekend I was scanning our local paper trying to come up with a topic for “This Could Be News…” and suddenly, there it was. Not my topic, but a real story. I just have to read it to you… You can’t make this kind of $%it up!
Thieves rolling Tide detergent out of stores
by Ben Nuckols
WASHINGTON – When police in suburban Washington raided the home of a suspected drug dealer last fall, they found the cocaine they expected, as well as something unusual on the man’s shelves: nearly 20 large bottles of Tide laundry detergent.
It turns out his customers were paying for the drugs not with cash but with stolen Tide.
Tide has become a hot commodity among thieves at supermarkets and drugstores in some parts of the country. For a variety of reasons, the detergent in the familiar flame-orange bottle is well-suited for resale on the black market: Everybody needs laundry detergent, and Tide is the nation’s most popular brand. It’s expensive, selling for up to $20 for a large bottle at stores. And it doesn’t spoil.
One Safeway supermarket in Prince George’s County, MD, was losing thousands of dollar’s worth of Tide a week before police made more than two dozen arrests. In West St. Paul, MN, a man pleaded guilty to stealing more than $6,000 worth of the stuff from a Wal-Mart and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Police in Newport News, VA, and other cities around the country have reported a spike in thefts.
In the Washington area, some CVS pharmacies have attached electronic anti-theft tags to bottles of Tide. One CVS in a well-to-do Dupont Circle neighborhood keeps Tide locked up behind glass.
Charlene Holton, a clerk at a CVS in northwest Washington, has seen too many Tide thefts to count.
“It’s a hot item! It’s gotten out of hand,” Holton said. “They usually take maybe four, whatever they can carry out the door. We have to fight for that. It’s rough.”
The store has put electronic tags on its Tide, but that doesn’t stop thieves, Holton said. They run out of the store with the detergent and remove the tags later.
It’s not clear how new the Tide theft phenomenon is, but organized theft has been a problem for U.S. retailers, costing them $3.53 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Foundation.
Now that’s alota laundry 😉