ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Police could understand if it were cigarettes, beer, or even food — but why would anyone want to steal so much Tide?

“We have about 50 cases where detergent was stolen,” said Captain Mary Warnecke, Commander of the 6th District, “And to say that they’re all linked or part of an organized group, I couldn’t say at this point.”

Nationwide, police are reporting similar thefts of Tide, which retails from $10 to $20 a bottle. Reports indicate it’s being used in some cities as a type of currency on the streets.

In St. Louis, Warnecke says they are close to arresting two individuals believed responsible for more than a dozen of the thefts and hope to determine why they want the laundry soap enough to risk jail.

“Knowing the drug trade and the propensity for bartering that’s included,” Warnecke said, “People will trade just about anything, if they have a drug addiction.”

Another possibility , Warnecke said, is that the detergent is being sold for cash on the streets or sold to an organized group re-selling it in stores.

Since mid-2011, Warnecke says they’ve been getting reports of the detergent thefts, mostly Tide or Gains, and the scenario is similar.

“We’re talking about one to two individuals going into our smaller type stores, our dollar stores, convenience stores, even gas stations,” Warnecke said, “Grabbing the product and running out to a waiting vehicle.”

No weapons have been used in any of the local detergent heists, but Warnecke says a few times it’s gotten violent, classifying them as a robbery.

“Somebody typically tries to stop them and it gets physical , maybe a punch is thrown, that sort of thing,” Warnecke said.

St. Louis Police have been meeting with retailers Walgreens and Target to respond to the detergent thefts.

In other parts of the country, the pharmacy chain CVS was reportedly securing Tide and other laundry detergent alongside flu medication and other items at high-risk for theft.

Copyright KMOX

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