FILED IN: News & Politics

Tide detergent: the new ‘liquid gold’ on black market

Reports of ‘spud spree’ abound as shoplifters target laundry detergent

Image via KNBC-TV.

A new “grime wave” has hit supermarkets and drug stores across the nation as shoplifters are cleaning up on a bizarre target: Tide laundry detergent.

It’s the kind of story that baffles police while making pun-loving news writers weak in the knees.

Police in multiple cities across the country have reported the rising tide of shoplifters preying on the No. 1 brand of detergent.

With an average bottle of the stuff going for $15 at the supermarket, thieves are reselling the product for $5-$10 on the black market. With the economy hurting and detergent considered an essential commodity, some are calling Tide the new “liquid gold.”

Coupled with the fact that there are no serial numbers to track the bottles, it’s no wonder why Tide is a spotless alternative to stealing cars or jewelry.

Oregon police told The Daily that many Tide-takers are exchanging the detergent for drugs, while the New York Post reported that some thieves resell the product back to the store.

In Maryland, a supermarket surveillance camera caught shoplifter loading his cart with Tide and then making an exit dash to his getaway car.

A Tide thief in St. Paul, Minn. was reported to have stolen $25,000 worth of the detergent within 15 months before getting caught last year.

“That was unique that he stole so much soap,” West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver told The Daily. “The name brand is [all] Tide. Amazing, huh?”

But new reports suggest shoplifters are going after more than just Tide to sell on the black market.  Michael Garry, technology and operations editor for Supermarket News told NBC News that over the last five years, organized retail crime rings have been on the rise in the supermarket industry.

In 2010, supermarkets reported losing 3.12 percent of its products to theft. In 2001 they reported only 1.42 percent of their merchandise stolen.

“It’s a billion dollar black market out there,” Garry told NBC News.