Pre-Paying for Gas? How about Pre-Paying for Tide Detergent

“Liquid Gold” – Tide Thievery is growing nationwide. Laundry detergent: Not covered by EBT cards

I have this theory. Can’t’ prove it yet, but I’ll soon try to validate it. It was about 2006 when I started noticing that gas station were requiring you to “pre-pay” for gas, in a bid to suppress increasing rates of “drive-offs” (meaning, those who would fill up their tank and then ‘drive-off’ before settling their bill.

High rates of Petrol thievery, I deduced, must have started in heavily Black areas, prompting business owners to require patrons to pre-pay for the good before they were allowed to fill their tank.

At first, it was only communities enriched by high-levels of diversity (or homogenous Black areas that already had bars on the windows or plexiglass separating the cashier from the customer) that required the pre-paying to then procure the gas.

In 2008, when the wheels of the economy were coming off and gas prices were lurching upwards at a shocking rate, gas stations throughout the metro area where I lived at the time universally required pre-paying before you could fill up. 

To stay in business, drastic measures had to be taken. With the rising price in gas ( and no end in sight ), community gas stations across the nation will start enacting similar rules if they hope to stay in business.

I’ve always thought the concept of pre-paying for gas originated in an all-Black neighborhood, where some luckless business owner was tired of seeing his product liberated from the pump without compensation.

After all, it’s only in all-Black areas that businesses have bars on the windows to keep criminals and thugs from smashing in at night and running off with all the goods inside; it’s only all-Black areas that have plexiglass “safe rooms” for the cashier to hide out in, with one little slit where a cash or credit transaction can be completed.

Now, a new threat has emerged nationwide that will probably require grocery stores to start mandating the “pre-paying” for your grocery list (that, or make all shoppers purchase a loyalty card to gain entry): Tide Theft.

What are you talking about, right? That’s your question. It’s mine too, as “dirty bandits” hoping to get their “liquid gold” fix abscond with Tide nationwide:

Law enforcement officials across the country are puzzled over a crime wave targeting an unlikely item: Tide laundry detergent.

Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.

One Tide taker in West St. Paul, Minn., made off with $25,000 in the product over 15 months before he was busted last year.

“That was unique that he stole so much soap,” said West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver. “The name brand is [all] Tide. Amazing, huh?”

Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. The retail price is steadily high — roughly $10 to $20 a bottle — and it’s a staple in households across socioeconomic classes.

Tide can go for $5 to $10 a bottle on the black market, authorities say. Enterprising laundry soap peddlers even resell bottles to stores.

“There’s no serial numbers and it’s impossible to track,” said Detective Larry Patterson of the Somerset, Ky., Police Department, where authorities have seen a huge spike in Tide theft. “It’s the item to steal.”

Why Tide and not, say, Wisk or All? Police say it’s simply because the Procter & Gamble detergent is the most popular and, with its Day-Glo orange logo, most recognizable of brands.

George Cohen, spokesman for Philadelphia-based Checkpoint Systems, which produces alarms being tested on Tide in CVS stores, said: “Name brands are easier to resell.

“In organized retail crimes they would love to steal the iPad. It’s very easy to sell. Harder to sell the unknown Korean brand.”

Most thieves load carts with dozens of bottles, then dash out the door. Many have getaway cars waiting outside.

“These are criminals coming into the store to steal thousands of dollars of merchandise,” said Detective Harrison Sprague of the Prince George’s County, Md., Police Department, where Tide is known as “liquid gold” among officers.

He and other law enforcement officials across the country say Tide theft is connected to the drug trade. In fact, a recent drug sting turned up more Tide that cocaine.

“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,’ ” Sprague told The Daily. “Upstairs in the drug dealer’s bedroom was about 14 bottles of Tide laundry soap. We think [users] are trading it for drugs.”

Police in Gresham, Ore., said most Tide theft is perpetrated by “users feeding their habit.”

“They’ll do it right in front of a cop car — buying heroin or methamphetamine with Tide,” said Detective Rick Blake of the Gresham Police Department. “We would see people walking down the road with six, seven bottles of Tide. They were so blatant about it.”

Robyn Cafasso, chief deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs, Colo., said the problem is nothing more than “organized shoplifting” and can be stopped. One method is to toughen punishments for recidivists.

“There’s this old-school thought that this is a shoplift, so it goes into the municipal system,” Cafasso said. “We’re starting to actually get more habitual offenders out of the municipal system and refile charges to make it a more serious offense.”

Cafasso agreed that there’s been a major upswing in Tide theft. “Everybody knows that liquid detergent Tide is an expensive item,” she said.

The pharmacy chain CVS is locking down Tide and other laundry detergents in certain parts of the country alongside flu medication and other commonly stolen items. Joe LaRocca, of the National Retail Federation, said: “It’s a game of cat and mouse. There’s a real balance that takes place between customer service — the product available on the shelf — and securing the merchandise.”

There you have it. Les Miserables updated for the 21st century: a bunch of – Prince George’s County… – Black people, whose reliance on the EBT card for sustenance, refuse to purchase laundry detergent (it’s not covered by your tax-dollar supported EBT card), so they steal this “liquid gold” and sell it on the black market.

I could be wrong about the origins of pre-paying for gas, but I doubt it. I’m not wrong about “liquid gold” either.

All of this madness could end tomorrow.

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