(NaturalNews) The very notion of it lends itself to a horrible pun: The widespread and growing theft of Tide laundry detergent is being called a "grime wave."
Only, cops don't really know why the household brand is being lifted in record numbers. Surely it can't be "Tide" to some filthy underworld that we're just now learning about.
Or can it? No one knows - yet.
What is known, however, is thefts of Tide are increasing. According to reports, one man was even busted in St. Paul, Minn., last year after making off with $25,000 worth of the sudsy soap.
The rash of thefts has caused retailers to take extraordinary security measures to protect inventories. Some cities have even set up special task forces to find out what is going on.
The drug trade has been mentioned as a possible reason Tide - not All or Cheer or any other laundry soap - has become what many view as a sort of new street currency. But again, no one can really say for sure.
There is only anecdotal evidence tying Tide to the trade. Only shadowy insinuations. Nothing concrete.
"A recent drug sting in Maryland turned up more Tide than cocaine and according to police it was not just one guy, but an organization that would hit four to five stores a day," said an ABC News report. But again - why?
One former FBI special agent, Brad Garrett, offered this explanation.
"It may be more financially viable for the drug dealer to exchange Tide for drugs and then resell the Tide," he said, noting that Tide on the black market sells for about half its average retail price of about $10-20.
That's possible, but police in Gresham, Ore., believe Tide is also stolen by users to feed their habits - all out in the open.
"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 told The Daily.
Some officers are even referring to the detergent these days as "liquid gold."
'Cleaning up' in the drug trade
"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,'" Detective Harrison Sprague of the Prince George's County, Md., Police Department said. "Upstairs in the drug dealer's bedroom was about 14 bottles of Tide laundry soap. We think [users] are trading it for drugs."
George Cohen, spokesman for Philadelphia-based Checkpoint Systems, which produces alarms being tested on Tide in CVS stores, said The Daily, opined that Tide is being targeted because it's a very relatable name brand, with its distinctive orange outer package and the bold blue "TIDE" lettering.
"In organized retail crimes they would love to steal the iPad. It's very easy to sell. Harder to sell the unknown Korean brand," he said.
Still, cops are not completely convinced they know what's going on.