Tide Theft: Black-market Tide

March 14, 2012 by staff 

Tide Theft: Black-market Tide, Police and retailers are pushing back against a report claiming that theft of Tide laundry detergent is on the rise nationwide and that some cities are devising special task forces to crack down on the alleged phenomenon.

The Daily, an iPad publication, reported Monday that authorities from New York to Oregon are combating a new wave of Tide theft at popular retail stores, like CVS and Walmart. The story quickly spread virally across the Internet, and was even the subject of a segment Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

While police acknowledge that name-brand household items are commonly swiped from store shelves, authorities in at least two states referenced by the publication say they have not seen a specific rise in stolen Tide detergent.

Lt. Matt Swenke of the West St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota described laundry detergent as a “needed commodity” – much like baby formula and toilet paper – that he said is often a target for shoplifters looking to profit by reselling the items to privately-owned retail stores.

He referenced one case of a man suspected of stealing $25,000 worth of Tide detergent from a Walmart in West St. Paul over a 15-month period. He said the man, identified as 53-year-old Patrick Costanzo, was seen on surveillance video stocking up his shopping cart with various items, including Tide, and walking out of the store without paying.

But, Swenke said, “We haven’t noticed anything in terms of this being a rising problem.” He said of the five major retailers in the West St. Paul area, only one store – Walmart – came forward to police about thousands of dollars of missing Tide inventory believed to have been taken by Costanzo.

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