Law enforcement and retail officials say Tide detergent is being stolen and traded for drugs. Liquid Tide or Tide Pods are also being sold at open swap meets and secret meetings, according to The Press-Enterprise.
Detergent is fairly easy to steal and difficult to trace, law enforcement officials say. Stealing detergent is relatively low in risk, compared with other types of crime, they add. Unlike cold medicines, which are frequently stolen to make methamphetamine, Tide is not being broken down to make drugs, the article notes.
A 150-ounce bottle of Tide that sells for about $18 can be exchanged for $5 in cash, or $10 worth of marijuana or crack cocaine, according to New York Magazine.
Riverside, California Police Lieutenant Dan Hoxmeier said the thefts often involve three people: someone to identify the product, a second person to make sure no one is watching and loads the cart, and a third who pushes the cart out of the store.
Richard Mellor, Vice President of Loss Prevention for the National Retail Federation, says some merchants are shrink-wrapping extra inventory on shelves, or making the detergent difficult to reach. Others are attaching electronic devices to the products, which will activate if they are not removed at the checkout counter. Stores are also comparing surveillance photos, and forwarding the information to law enforcement.