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It's a Dirty Job
March 13, 2012 6:57 PM   Subscribe

The nation is awash with a new black market commodity... Across the country, retailers are finding massive amounts of this product missing. In West St. Paul, Minnesota, one enterprising individual has taken $25,000 dollars of this chemical that some Police Departments are calling liquid gold: Tide Detergent
posted by symbioid (100 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read about this yesterday and when a free sample of Tide arrived in the mail today, I was hoping not to get robbed...
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:58 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grime wave, amirite?
posted by unSane at 6:59 PM on March 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


*reads article, shoots self*
posted by unSane at 6:59 PM on March 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


wait... this is a joke, right?
posted by desjardins at 7:01 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


desjardins: I know, I checked the date when I saw this. It's not April 1st.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would expect that if you could steal any kind of soap you could sell it or trade it - lots of folks are on foodstamps and you can't buy soap and stuff with those.
posted by Frowner at 7:03 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


“We sent in an informant to buy drugs. The dealer said, ‘I don’t have drugs, but I could sell you 15 bottles of Tide,’ ”

“They’ll do it right in front of a cop car — buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide”


What the Dirty Harry is going on here?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:04 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


desjardins, I thought it was at first, but there's a few sites with this story -- even MSNBC has it. I'm not sure where it's all sourced to. While I can get that Razor Blades and OTC drugs are being stolen (I freakin' HATE that I can't just go buy blades, now, that I have to go find a clerk to unlock the damn thing), I just find it so ... weird... that a huge unwieldy bottle of detergent is being used in any black market scheme.

Maybe it's a hoax, but a lot of people are getting punked if it is...
posted by symbioid at 7:04 PM on March 13, 2012


I am unable to construct a suitable pun using lyrics from this song, so I will simply link it as appropriate accompaniment to the article.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:05 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm having a hard time understanding the logic of this.
posted by davebush at 7:06 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate buying laundry soap because the bottles are so annoying to carry. This is nuts.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:08 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, this cannot be real. it cannot.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:09 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read about this yesterday and when a free sample of Tide arrived in the mail today, I was hoping not to get robbed...

That's how they get you hooked, man. First one's free...
posted by codswallop at 7:10 PM on March 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


I figured it was being processed in to meth in some way. Nope.
posted by codacorolla at 7:10 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suppose it makes sense as a secondary currency for an economy lacking in cash and if it is backed by a constant need by people willing to buy it at a sketchy discount I'm hard pressed to see how the market for Tide would crash.

"Officials at Tide are trying to keep their hands clean."

Ok, maybe they are just fucking with us
posted by Blasdelb at 7:10 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Who does a prostitute's laundry?"
posted by Countess Elena at 7:12 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even the smallest bottle of Tide is designed for maximum discomfort when trying to carry it and 2+ bags of groceries. That is where all of their technology has gone.

Anyway, sixth season of The Wire?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:12 PM on March 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


http://www.snopes.com/media/notnews/tide.asp (undetermined, but extraordinary claims and all that...).
posted by samj at 7:14 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


So - Fox News is now saying "Police say reports of nationwide spike in Tide thefts doesn't wash".
posted by symbioid at 7:14 PM on March 13, 2012


Snopes says "?", but the weekly-world-news force is strong in this one.
posted by hexatron at 7:15 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


How does the same dude steal from the same store for 15 months and not get caught? (Fox News excerpt in the Snopes link)
posted by desjardins at 7:16 PM on March 13, 2012


This security cam of a dude pushing a loaded cart w/Tide is pretty sweet.
posted by symbioid at 7:17 PM on March 13, 2012


The story might be bogus, but it seems perfectly plausible. It is relatively valuable and easily sold on the street. Why not? My uncle stole and sold VHS tapes to support his habit for a while...
posted by gjc at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2012


I just bought a bottle of tide (legally in a grocery store, I swear) but noticed Tide's new thing is Tide Pods. This little blob thing that dissolves in the washer. Single wash loads that come in nice transportable sizes instead of a big orange bottle.

I do hope this story isn't a thing. Already my urban grocery and drug stores have things like razors, condoms, lube, pregnancy tests and several other things are behind lock and key.
posted by birdherder at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sounds like the worst viral marketing scheme ever. Ok, not the worst ever, but still!
posted by PhillC at 7:23 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good. Let them steal all the Tide. That stuff makes me itch fiercely.
posted by Malor at 7:24 PM on March 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


I know of a rumor that beating a hair drug test can be done by rinsing your hair with vinegar, followed by salicylic acid, and then washing it all out with Tide. Except, that would barely explain a noticeable rise in thefts. Also, apparently this is not very effective at beating hair tests.
posted by Ardiril at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2012


The Daily IS another Rupert Murdoch/NewsCorp outlet. With FoxNews debunking it, sounds like an internal website vs. cablechannel rivalry - just don't expect either entity to 'come clean'.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:30 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, do all those bottles of Tide become completely worthless the next time P&G makes a "New AND Improved!" version?
posted by briank at 7:36 PM on March 13, 2012


The story might be bogus, but it seems perfectly plausible. It is relatively valuable and easily sold on the street. Why not? My uncle stole and sold VHS tapes to support his habit for a while...

I dunno, I wouldn't think Tide has a very high value-to-volume ration. If you can load a shopping cart full of things and make your getaway I would think you could use that space more efficiently than shoving it full of a bulky, heavy, not-really-that-expensive household good.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sounds like a bogus story, maybe written as a joke and got out of hand. Money laundering. Cleaning up etc.

In prison they use Ramen Noodles because they are light and portable and desirable. Tide is not portable or easy to steal, heroin addicts don't care about laundry soap, unlike junk food - in fact Ramen is the food of addicts.
posted by stbalbach at 7:41 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, do all those bottles of Tide become completely worthless the next time P&G makes a "New AND Improved!" version?

No, the dealers would just sell it for a discount after cutting it with Purex.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:44 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have access to a fairly gigantic database of grocery transactions and I just ran a query and at the stores I support, the shrink rate for Tide is significantly lower than the average item (which is what I expect because it is both heavy and bulky. Our shrink runs 0.4% on Tide. High shrink items (meat, candy, formula) can run 2.8% or more.

I call bullshit.
posted by Lame_username at 7:45 PM on March 13, 2012 [82 favorites]


Could it be used an explosive?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 PM on March 13, 2012


Charge your clients a refundable bottle deposit, wash the returned empties, cut the Tide with water or use generic store brand...

Also, I guess those extreme coupon folks with a garage full of the stuff should start investing in security.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:49 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've worked in a grocery store and you know what the most stolen item is besides razor blades, expensive spices and seafood (stuck in someones pants nonetheless)? Tide laundry detergent. This isn't a new thing.
posted by littlesq at 7:50 PM on March 13, 2012


Also also, I really want this to be where Breaking Bad goes next season.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:51 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Good. Let them steal all the Tide. That stuff makes me itch fiercely.

My mom washed the family laundry with Tide and when I moved out I bought Tide since that was what I knew. Eventually, I realized their were cheaper brands and so I decided to buy another brand. My entire body broke out in hives to the point and I freaked out. I didn't think it could be my detergent until the doctor asked if I changed my soap or detergents. Turns out I was allergic to other brand.

Now I'm Tide4Life except when I'm in Mexico and then I use Ariel because that's what Tide is known as there.
posted by birdherder at 7:51 PM on March 13, 2012


I mean Ace. Tide in Mexico is called Ace.
posted by birdherder at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2012


Maybe its somehow connected to this...

''I just don't know that sticking a bunch of selenium up a nitrogen-based life-form's butt will do anything, other than getting him really mad.'' Adds an H&S rep: ''We have no experience with how the product affects extraterrestrials.''
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:59 PM on March 13, 2012


I've worked in a grocery store and you know what the most stolen item is besides razor blades, expensive spices and seafood (stuck in someones pants nonetheless)? Tide laundry detergent.
Our stores may be a bit unusual because we have an atypical customer base, but across just under 300 stores, razor blades are high shrink (like most HBA items), spices are not and seafood is (although not as high as steak).

In trade publications, they always say that cheese is the number one shrink item, but I don't see that either. I also pulled shrink data as far back as I can see and the shrink rate on Tide looks pretty much the same over time, so not a new trend either.
posted by Lame_username at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now I'm Tide4Life except when I'm in Mexico and then I use Ariel because that's what Tide is known as there.

No it's not. I've used Tide, I've used Ariel (I'm in Mexico). They are different. Plus, we have Tide here too, at least where I live.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2012


stbalbach: "Sounds like a bogus story, maybe written as a joke and got out of hand. Money laundering. Cleaning up etc.

In prison they use Ramen Noodles because they are light and portable and desirable. Tide is not portable or easy to steal, heroin addicts don't care about laundry soap, unlike junk food - in fact Ramen is the food of addicts.
"

Or poor geeks such as myself.
posted by Samizdata at 8:01 PM on March 13, 2012


Also also, I really want this to be where Breaking Bad goes next season.

Why do you think the lab is hidden in the basement of a commercial laundry business, fer chrissakes? So they can launder all the Tide that the junkies use for payments, OBVIOUSLY.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh, should have previewed.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:02 PM on March 13, 2012


Best deal on amazon breaks down to about 20 cents / fluid ounce. One story above mentioned a dealer with a cool grand in liquid tide; that charts out to 5000 fluid ounces, or 312 pounds. I don't think we're really looking at the best tradeoff here- Batteries would seem to be a lot more lucrative; you could probably still walk out of the store with a grand's worth of Double-A's down your trousers.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...is it because it's too cold to wash them out-tide?
posted by louche mustachio at 8:16 PM on March 13, 2012


oh, should have previewed.,

No, I should have not gotten my P&G brands confused. I've only seen Ace in grocery stores (in the section where Tide would be but when I'm in Mexico I usually pay by the kilo to get my laundry done and don't shop for detergent) and on the Tijuana TV stations.

Arial is very popular and its scent (along wit Fabuloso floor cleaner) reminds me of my times in Mexico.
posted by birdherder at 8:22 PM on March 13, 2012


Was discussing this after seeing TWO (non-Fox) news reports tonight with husband. So, ok, I get that Tide costs about 14.00 in the store, you could steal it and sell it for 10.00 from the back of your truck. But...why would people buy from you? Why not just buy Cheap StoreBrand for 9.00 in the store? Does your average poor householder have a cultlike love for this one brand of soap?

It doesn't make sense, and it was extremely irritating to see the newscasters not questioning this. People steal and sell razor blades and baby formula because that shit is expensive and you need it. They steal preganancy tests because of shame factors or expense.

But laundry detergent? In giant heavy bright orange bottles? I'm going to need some kind of better explanation than "poor people loves them some Tide!"
posted by emjaybee at 8:23 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Crime ring around the collar?
posted by PapaLobo at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't deodorant be a much easier thing to carry? And it seems like a stick of deodorant (maybe two) is getting pretty close to the price of something like a bottle of Tide. Or toothpaste? There are a lot of common items that are smaller and pretty expensive.

However, I did see a woman get caught just yesterday trying to shoplift several bottles of liquid soap from a grocery store. It wasn't Tide though, it looked like some sort of body wash.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2012


Why did the thief steal $25,000 worth of Tide laundry detergent?

He wanted to make a clean getaway.

This joke has been pre-approved for MeFi by my 7-year old (i.e. she responded "oh that's just terrible..." and continued working on a drawing a flying Cheetah-girl)
posted by prinado at 8:27 PM on March 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


You people are so clueless.

::wipes nose on an already greenish sleeve::

Tide is the shit man. It's like, the best.

You wanna watch, okay, come on into the house. But be quiet. People here don't like loud noises. You might get jacked. Hell, you're clean.

This guy over here, this is Carl.

::points to a guy shooting up Tide with a turkey baster::

He's new here. Just starting out. He cuts it with Downy. But that's cool. He'll be back for the pure stuff soon.

You wanna talk to a real strung out chick? This is Lotus. She's on a half gallon a day. Talk to her. Go ahead.

Lotus: Clean. My head is sooooo clean. I'm clean. We're all clean.

Yeah right, clean. Whatthefuckever.

Now if you got the money we got the honey, if you know what I mean. But the basement is where the action is. Wait, I gotta make sure it's okay.

::knocks on door::

::mumbling conversation::

They want to be sure you're not with the Laundry. You with the Laundry? No? You better not be. Or you're washed up, see?

::walking down a rickety staircase::

::A single yellow lightbulb illuminates a sordid scene::

::on one side of the filthy basement are several people on detergent encrusted air mattresses. Tide bottles hanging from overhead beams via rusted clothes hangers. Tubes deliver the "pure stuff" directly into their anuses::

That's the enders. They left the world of dirt a long time ago. Sometimes they cough up a dryer sheet. But they're gone.

::on the other side of the room are the workers. They cut pure Tide with dish soap. This they sell to newbs::

Now you seen it. You feel cleaner now? Huh? Or are you dirty? Need a dose to smell fresh? I promise you the cleanest stuff...
posted by Splunge at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


It's all Nascar's fault.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:30 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If true, these criminals are complete idiots. Dr. Bronner's is so concentrated you could stomp the shit out of it and still have the hottest package on the street.
posted by snofoam at 8:32 PM on March 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Dilute, dilute! Word.
posted by snofoam at 8:32 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The West St. Paul, MN story.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 PM on March 13, 2012


Lame_username: "I have access to a fairly gigantic database of grocery transactions and I just ran a query and at the stores I support, the shrink rate for Tide is significantly lower than the average item (which is what I expect because it is both heavy and bulky. Our shrink runs 0.4% on Tide. High shrink items (meat, candy, formula) can run 2.8% or more.

I call bullshit.
"

God I love Metafilter.
posted by Bonzai at 8:48 PM on March 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'm now imagining a bunch of dealers huddled in the dark alleys around Whole Foods with baggies full of Mrs Meyer's lavender dryer sheets.
posted by thivaia at 9:04 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you wash your clothes in Tide?

Of course! It's too damn cold out Tide!
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:10 PM on March 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Looks like another case of white collar crime... <sunglasses>whiter than white. YEEAAARRRHH!
posted by AndrewStephens at 9:15 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't deodorant be a much easier thing to carry? And it seems like a stick of deodorant (maybe two) is getting pretty close to the price of something like a bottle of Tide. Or toothpaste? There are a lot of common items that are smaller and pretty expensive.

My local CVS has taken to putting these sliding plastic covers in front of the laundry detergent and some of the deodorant, such that you can only reveal one product at a time. I'm assuming people had taken to making off with both.
posted by hoyland at 9:18 PM on March 13, 2012


Requiem for a Clean.
posted by SPrintF at 9:19 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't buy it. I can just barely imagine laundry detergent being used as a form of currency. Although you don't NEED laundry detergent the way you need razor blades and diapers.

But name brand Tide specifically? No way. In the real world, brand names hold little value. I can go to the Grocery Outlet and buy a giant jug of Derp Brand Laundry detergent, works just as well as Tide, for about 1/10th the cost.

Plus, liquid laundry detergent has no safety seal. Someone tries to pay for something with a bottle of Tide, you just know they cut it 50/50 with water.

There's no way to tamper with diapers or razor blades to make them less diaper-y or razor blade-y, which is part of why these items have value on the street.

People swiping empty Tide bottles out of the trash, refilling them with Derp Brand Laundry Detergent from the discount store, and trying to sell them at full price as Tide? Now that I can imagine.
posted by ErikaB at 9:19 PM on March 13, 2012


I support cleaner, fresher smelling criminals. Have you ever been on a Greyhound?
posted by desjardins at 9:27 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


emjaybee: "...So, ok, I get that Tide costs about 14.00 in the store, you could steal it and sell it for 10.00 from the back of your truck. But...why would people buy from you? Why not just buy Cheap StoreBrand for 9.00 in the store? Does your average poor householder have a cultlike love for this one brand of soap?"

Don't know, but it could be that people in inner city neighbourhoods don't have easy access to stores. So they could go on the long bus ride to a big box store in the suburbs and then carry the heavy bottles home, or just buy a bottle from the junkie down the street. The convenience is what makes it worth paying more.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:29 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have access to a fairly gigantic database of grocery transactions and I just ran a query and at the stores I support, the shrink rate

This is just glorious. Thank you, you made my day.
posted by smoke at 9:32 PM on March 13, 2012


Derp Brand Laundry detergent

brb, filing trademark application
posted by hattifattener at 10:01 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is just glorious. Thank you, you made my day.
It was much more satisfying than when I tried to data mine for the thread on what line to pick based on transaction times: the lane with 3 people with 5 items each or the lane with one person with 25 items. It turns out that we keep shitty data on cashier queues and really good data on what people steal.

I've always found it profoundly depressing that infant formula is stolen in such quantity.
posted by Lame_username at 10:03 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always found it profoundly depressing that infant formula is stolen in such quantity.

Ha, I find it encouraging, probably for many of the same reasons!
posted by unSane at 10:15 PM on March 13, 2012


I bought Tide at a CVS in Chicago a few weeks ago. The store did indeed have an anti-theft thingy looped around the handle. I couldn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now. Detergent? Really?
posted by Wulfhere at 10:21 PM on March 13, 2012


"That's the enders. They left the world of dirt a long time ago. Sometimes they cough up a dryer sheet. But they're gone."

You owe me a keyboard. Or at least another Dr. Pepper.
posted by azpenguin at 10:42 PM on March 13, 2012


We sent in an informant to buy drugs. The dealer said, ‘I don’t have drugs, but I could sell you 15 bottles of Tide’

Thus were the foundations of the world's most lame-ass gangsta rap laid down.
posted by nanojath at 10:48 PM on March 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is it just me, or has the world slowly turned into a David Foster Wallace Novel?
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:56 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lame_username, care to give us the top 20 and the bottom 20 for product shrinkage (i.e. what is never stolen and what is?). I'd be very interested, and I dare say, so would some others.
And how about any seasonal variation?
Metafilter loves data sets.
posted by bystander at 2:13 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


bystander: " I'd be very interested, and I dare say, so would some others. And how about any seasonal variation? Metafilter loves data sets."

Gotta know what the customers are wanting...
posted by arcticseal at 2:52 AM on March 14, 2012


The world has always* been a DFW novel.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:35 AM on March 14, 2012


How the hell do you steal a jug of Tide in the first place? Damned things weigh as much as basset hound and are about as easy to stuff down your pants.
Not that I would know, of course...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:53 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this is how money laundering works...
posted by duffell at 4:54 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only story you need to see on this, reported by DC's own inimitable Pat Collins.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:43 AM on March 14, 2012


This seems like the type of story that keeps Malcolm Gladwell in business.
posted by davebush at 5:56 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only story you need to see on this, reported by DC's own inimitable Pat Collins.

Slow clap.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 6:05 AM on March 14, 2012


Also make sure if you steal this that you are willing to do the jail time because I hear that time and tide wait for no man.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 6:07 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


But boosting Tide raises all ships.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:33 AM on March 14, 2012


In trade publications, they always say that cheese is the number one shrink item, but I don't see that either.

I work in and around drug treatment, so I have current access to large numbers of active shoplifters.

While washing detergent isn't a thing here yet, you'd be surprised at the stuff that they do specialize in. Meat is always a big one. Toothpaste and high value shampoo also. One that's always surprised me is big jars of coffee -- generally Nescafe Gold Blend. They don't go for single items -- it's generally a bulk snatch -- a bag full or a trolley full. One quick scoop and then out.

I'm guessing one of the reasons they're going for Tide is that it just isn't very well guarded at the moment. Store detectives will be monitoring the steak cabinets and the cosmetic aisles. While they do that, chummy can be loading up his trolley with Tide and back out through the in door before anyone has even noticed he's in the shop.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:49 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's a black market that is "awash" in detergent, won't it be more of a dingy gray market eventually? And is that growing legitimacy or just fading dye?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2012


If this is bogus, it is clever for using Tide for the detergent being stolen. For most low income people, Tide is the part of the detergent isle you don't even bother to look at. Shit can cost up to three times as much as Purex - its just not worth it when on a limited budget. So Tide is associated with being a luxury item. So, a story about a black market for laundry detergent, that just sounds stupid. But if it's Tide... hmm, that shit's expensive. There just might be something to it.
posted by charred husk at 7:06 AM on March 14, 2012


FWIW, I searched and all the police names in the story are valid cops with those departments.

It was much more satisfying than when I tried to data mine for the thread on what line to pick based on transaction times

Can you point me at that thread? I was just thinking of asking that question yesterday.
posted by yerfatma at 7:21 AM on March 14, 2012


the detergent isle

Ooh, maybe it's being used in powdered form to create man-made islands outside of government control!
posted by yerfatma at 7:21 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last week I purchased one of those little tubs of Buitoni pesto, only to open it a few days later and find that someone had opened the package in the store, removed the safety seal, and scooped out a handful of the green, oily goo.

Now, I'm not saying that I've stumbled across evidence of commercial pasta sauce being used as an illicit street currency...but I'm not not saying it either.
posted by malocchio at 7:31 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can load a shopping cart full of things and make your getaway I would think you could use that space more efficiently than shoving it full of a bulky, heavy, not-really-that-expensive household good.

Wasn't there a tv game show along these lines years ago?
posted by box at 8:02 AM on March 14, 2012


At my local CVS they won't stop anyone from stealing anything. They do call the police but by that time the thief is gone. The clerks told me that people regulatory walk out with large items in plain sight. Also, many states ban detergents that have phosphates so folks will cross state lines to buy detergents that contain phosphates. It is conceivable that there is a black market for the original Tide.

Let's go now to Spokane, Washington, where there's been a boom in the trafficking of an unlikely substance over the last year. It's an organized trade with highly coordinated schedules and a whole network of dealers, and much of it is family-related.
posted by futz at 8:05 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meat is always a big one.

Would you believe that when you try to claim that your client stuffing four pounds of shrimp and a few steaks down his pants is "stealing food to feed his family" the judge doesn't buy it? Also, it doesn't work if you're stealing credit card numbers to buy pizza for your roommates.

In my short time in criminal law, I was always hoping for someone where I could legitimately play the Jean Valjean card, but they never materialized.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:05 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


*regularly...
posted by futz at 8:07 AM on March 14, 2012


From my year-plus stint at a Walgreens in the west side of Chicago [poor, mostly hispanic population- the cops called us the bario] I can definitely say this happens. We had someone stealing tide at least once a week. This one man came in with a floor-length trenchcoat that he had sown extra pockets all along the inside. Went right to the laundry aisle and stole 12 bottles of Tide detergent. How he managed to actually run from the store with so much tide on him, I don't know. I remember being really impressed and very confused by that man. He never came back after that. I'm sure he hit up the other stores around the corner.
Now, the store I'm at now? We're at such a different socioeconomic level that we don't really worry about anything like that. Employee theft and 12-year-old "punks" are all we worry about.
posted by shesaysgo at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could see myself buying dishwasher soap with phosphate on the black market. The new stuff sucks, I end up washing half my dishes by hand anyway. I wonder if Illinois has banned phosphates - it'd almost be worth the two hours roundtrip to stock up.
posted by desjardins at 10:52 AM on March 14, 2012


Idea: if phosphates kill fish, let's dump some Tide in the Illinois River and take care of the Asian Carp problem.

You're welcome.
posted by desjardins at 10:53 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


box: "If you can load a shopping cart full of things and make your getaway I would think you could use that space more efficiently than shoving it full of a bulky, heavy, not-really-that-expensive household good.

Wasn't there a tv game show along these lines years ago?
"

Supermarket Sweep, although there was a version in the UK too.
posted by arcticseal at 10:54 PM on March 14, 2012


NPR reported this morning that a DC drug bust netted cocaine and ... 20 bottles of Tide. I'm pretty naive about drugs, but can coke be cut with Tide? Do drug dealers need to do enormous amounts of laundry? Or are they really, truly selling this stuff?

Planet Money has picked up this story as well, although it's thin at the moment.
posted by desjardins at 7:43 AM on March 15, 2012


The Tide Is High but I'm holding on.
posted by Sailormom at 9:50 PM on March 16, 2012


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