Why Are Thieves Stealing Tide Laundry Detergent in Connecticut?

OXFORD — The video opens with what appears to be a normal scene outside a grocery store: two people loading the trunk of an SUV with items from their basket.

Footage continued as the pair quickly tossed item after item into the car, parked in the fire lane at the entrance to the store. One of the carts and the back of the SUV were nearly full of large bottles of Tide laundry detergent. The person who filmed the video then turned around to reveal a van also parked in the fire lane with two other people filling its trunk with what appear to be paper towels and yet more bottles of Tide.

The video captured what police described as a brazen daytime shoplifting incident.


“I honestly thought it was a joke,” Wayne Pesch, president of the Connecticut Food Association, a group that represents grocers in the state, said of the video.

State police have since said the group is linked to other similar incidents throughout Connecticut. Investigators believe they have identified two of the suspects involved, whose identities were not immediately released on Friday. The van seen in the video was recovered in New Haven, police said.

While Pesch said other thefts are “not necessarily as brazen” as the incident filmed in Oxford on Tuesday, grocers face the prospect of theft “365 days a year”.

Tide, he noted, is often targeted by thieves with infant formula and energy drinks because these more expensive items can be easily resold on the black market.

While several Connecticut police departments have said they have not seen large-scale thefts of laundry detergent, Tide brand detergent, in particular, has become a favorite with thieves in recent years. according to The Associated Press.

It’s for a number of reasons – it’s a product everyone needs, it’s a popular and well-known brand, it doesn’t spoil, and the big bottles sell for around $20.

Pesch noted that thieves could likely unload stolen detergent for around $10 a bottle.

The theft in Oxford points to a wider theft problem for food retailers, said Pesch, who he said operate on low margins. Some retailers have announced store closures, citing shoplifting and “organized crime in the retail trade”.

Some members of the association have installed facial recognition software to combat theft, which can cost store owners thousands of dollars.

“You have to sell a lot of peanut butter to compensate for that,” Pesch said.

Pesch said workers shouldn’t intervene directly, but take a note or photo and alert their supervisor or law enforcement. He compared this to concerns he had previously raised about asking retail workers to mandate masking in stores.

“We’re not going to put people in danger,” he said, saying asking people to confront or prevent someone who could potentially be armed from stealing is a “no way out” situation.

“We will do our job,” he said, “we will let law enforcement do their job.”

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