Police: Thieves Steal Tide Detergent to Trade for Crack Cocaine, Marijuana

Inland Empire authorities kept finding the detergent during raids on drug houses

By Christina Cocca
|  Thursday, Jun 20, 2013  |  Updated 8:57 AM PDT
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Thieves Steal Tide to Trade for Drugs: Police

Getty Images

Tide laundry detergent is being used as black market currency and is being traded for drugs. It's referred to as "liquid gold," law enforcement officials say. File photo from March 2012.

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Tide has become such a “hot commodity” on the black market as one of the most frequently stolen items that it is now used as a trade for drugs such as marijuana and crack cocaine, according to Southern California law enforcement officials.

Detectives were puzzled when they kept finding the detergent during drug raids, San Bernardino police Sgt. Travis Walker told the Press-Enterprise.

“The question started coming up, ‘Why are we seeing so much laundry detergent in so many dope houses?’” Walker said.

Thieves were not stealing the detergent to use in the making of the drugs, as with some frequently stolen over-the-counter medicines.

Instead, they trade bottles of Tide for either cash or $10 worth of marijuana or crack cocaine, the Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday. The Tide is then used for its original purpose of washing clothes.

One Inland Empire supermarket chain reported each store having four to six Tide thefts per week valued between $100 and $400, Walker said.

A slew Tide thefts in Anaheim and across the country last March led authorities to question whether it was being traded for cash, NBC4 reported.

“It’s a hot commodity on the streets,” Riverside police Lt. Dan Hoxmeier told the Press-Enterprise.

Asked about the newspaper article, San Bernardino police Detective Eric Bennet told NBC4's Jacob Rascon that he had never seen any Tide detergent during a raid.

The Press-Enterprise confirmed Walker's statements. When reached for comment by NBC4, Walker confirmed that police are "seeing Tide thefts like no tomorrow." However, he said it was unclear whether the thefts are related to the drug trade.

Photo credit: flickr/Daniel James Photography

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