Washington – Police in suburban Washington raided the home last fall suspecting it was that of drug dealer, they found drugs, of course, and surprisingly a stash of nearly 20 large bottles of liquid Tide laundry detergent. Customers of the drug dealer were allegedly paying for drugs not with cash but with stolen detergent. For a many reasons, Tide detergent is popping up all over the black market: People need laundry detergent, and with Tide being the US’s #1 brand and expensive, it’s a hot item. Plus, it lasts forever.
A supermarket in Prince George’s County, Md., was losing thousands of dollars’ worth of the high-end detergent every week before cops made a slew of arrests. In St. Paul, a man was convicted of lifting more than $6,000 worth of Tide from a Walmart.
Some pharmacies have taken to attaching electronic anti-theft tags to bottles. One CVS even keeps Tide locked up behind glass. However, even with electronic tags thieves run out of the store and remove the tags later.
Organized store theft cost retailers more than $3.5 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. Other popular items that are stolen are razor blades, baby formula, and over-the-counter medication.
“I’m out of marijuana right now, but when I get re-upped I’ll hook you up if you can get me 15 bottles of Tide,” one dealer was quoted as telling an informant, according to police.
Videos from a store in Bowie, Md., showed teams of two or three people entering the shop, loading up carts of detergent and rushing outside, where they loaded it into a waiting car. Police arrested nearly 30 people when they broke up the theft ring last year.
“Theft of Tide is not a new issue in the retail industry,” said CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel.
Procter & Gamble, which makes Tide, sounded surprised about why the brand has gotten so much attention from shoplifters.
“We don’t have any insight as to why this has apparently happened,” P&G spokeswoman Sarah Pasquinucci said in an email, “but if so it is unfortunate.”