When it comes to shoplifting there are the usual suspects: thieves who swipe designer clothing, candy, maybe even some expensive electronics here and there. Then there are those who steal Tide detergent and sell it on the black market for drug money.
Or so recent reports say.
According to a report in The Daily that went viral, thieves are snatching Tide detergent off of supermarket shelves left and right, causing retailers to consider locking up their detergent supplies. Some authorities have even set up special task forces to deal with the surge.
One Minnesota man made off with more than $25,000 worth of Tide before his 15-month-long soap-stealing scheme was busted by the cops, the iPad-based publication said.
Authorities say a bottle of Tide detergent is relatively easy to steal, hard to track, and can fetch anywhere between $5 to $10 on the black market. Normal retail prices range from $10 to $20.
It seems Tide detergent has been targeted thanks to its recognizable brand name and familiar orange color.
Authorities say because laundry detergent is a staple that transcends socioeconomic class, Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. Most Tide theft is done by drug users seeking cash to feed their habit, police said.
"They'll do it right in front of a cop car—buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide," Detective Rick Blake of the Gresham, Ore., Police Department told The Daily. "We would see people walking down the road with six, seven bottles of Tide. They were so blatant about it."
The thieves aren't sneaky about swiping the detergent from supermarkets and drugstores either. Most perpetrators dump dozens of Tide bottles into a grocery cart and then dash out to a getaway car waiting outside.
But while a story of a drug-money-fueled Tide-stealing rampage is certainly interesting, some observers think it's just tabloid fodder. According to a Fox News report Tuesday, some authorities and retailers say reports of widespread laundry detergent theft are bunk.
"We haven't noticed anything in terms of this being a rising problem," Lt. Matt Swenke of the West St. Paul, Minn. Police Department told Fox, adding that only one retail store in the area had come forward to report missing Tide inventory. "As of yet, we have not been contacted by any of our larger retail establishments."