Police are trying to make sense of what appears to be a bizarre nationwide crime spree: thieves targeting Tide laundry detergent.
And, no, law enforcement officials don’t believe there’s a sudden obsession with fresh-smelling clothes in the criminal underworld.
Rather, The Daily blog reports, the name brand detergent is being used as a form of street currency, selling for as much as $20 a bottle.
In one of the worst cases, a Minnesota man stole over $25,000 worth of Tide during a 15-month spree before being nabbed.
“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?”
Officials speculate that Tide’s name brand image is making it the target for black market trade, where police have trouble tracking stolen soap.
Many of the robberies have been grab-and-dash heists, The Daily reports.
“These are criminals coming into the store to steal thousands of dollars of merchandise,” Detective Harrison Sprague of the Prince George’s County, Md., Police Department, told The Daily.
Cops there reportedly call Tide “liquid gold,” and came across a big stash of detergent during a recent drug sting. Police believe a common motive for stealing the soap is raising money – or barter – for drug habits.
“They’ll do it right in front of a cop car — buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide,” Detective Rick Blake of the Gresham Police Department, in Oregon, told The Daily. “We would see people walking down the road with six, seven bottles of Tide. They were so blatant about it.”