Tide detergent thefts on the rise

April 6, 2012 12:38:37 PM PDT
You've heard of black markets for all sorts of illegal items. Now, thieves are cleaning up at stores selling laundry detergent, and the criminals are pretty particular.

There has been a rash of household burglaries where the thieves go straight for the gold. Now, they're heading to the supermarket, looking for a tide of liquid gold: Bottles of Tide laundry detergent.

The detergent has been flying off the shelves, without stopping at the checkout line.

It's become a nationwide problem for retailers. Some have even started locking up their supplies of Tide.

Law enforcement says Tide is the new currency of the drug trade. Thieves exchange bottles of Tide for drugs and the dealers sell the Tide. Much of it ends up for sale by street vendors.

One vendor in North Philadelphia says he only works here a couple of days a week.

A large bottle fetch up to $20 in a conventional store. On the street, it goes for $10.99.

But why Tide?

Retailers say it's a favorite for thieves because it's a high-profile brand, costs more than some others, and it sells well on the streets.

Retailers are reluctant to reveal how much they're losing, but one video surveillance from Minnesota shows a man who stole $25,000 worth of Tide over the past year and a half.

That's a lot of money laundering.

Retailers have declined Action News' requests for interviews, but the parent company of Acme tells Action News that Tide is one of the most commonly shoplifted items.