M.L. Nestel, writing for thedaily.com
, reports that Tide detergent has become the hot new item targeted by thieves. He calls it a "Grime Wave." Nestel writes:
Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.
According to Nestel, Tide has become a form of currency on the street, where it's known as "liquid gold." People trade it for drugs. A recent drug sting turned up more Tide than cocaine.
Apparently, thieves brazenly go into supermarkets, load up shopping carts full of Tide, and then dash out the front door, into waiting getaway cars.
Nestel's story has been picked up by lots of other news outlets. So far I can only find one, NPR
, which is doubtful about it. Their reporter, Jacob Goldstein, asks, "is this for real, or is this a ginned-up trend story?"
If it is a ginned-up trend story, where did Nestel get the idea for it? One source is an article that ran in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press on Feb. 16
, about Patrick Paul Costanzo, who's been accused of stealing $25,000 worth of Tide from Walmart. It wasn't the only thing he was stealing, but it was the most unusual. Police Lt. Matt Swenke was quoted as saying, "Obviously, somewhere in our Twin Cities area there was a market for that (detergent). No one can use that much detergent."
Patrick Costanze, accused Tide thief
And back in Dec. 2011, the gazette.net
(Maryland community news) reported the theft of $15,000 worth of Tide from a local Safeway. But again, this article noted that Tide was just one of a number of common consumer products that were being stolen in large amounts. Other products popular among thieves included razor blades, infant formula, and diapers.
So there's two legitimate sources for Nestel's story. In other words, he's not making this up out of whole cloth. But perhaps it would be more accurate to say there's a crime wave targeting common household products, rather than a crime wave targeting Tide specifically.
Looks like the Great Tide Crime Wave was
a ginned-up trend story, as many suspected. According to an article on foxnews.com
, theft of Tide has long been a problem in the retail industry, and there's nothing new about this. Nor has the problem been getting worse recently.
Lt. Shannon Smith of the Somerset Police Department explains that thieves steal Tide, because it's a widely recognized brand-name household product, and then they sell it to small retail stores for half-price. This has been going on for ages.