Would you buy a bottle of Tide if you didn’t know where it came from?
I ask this question, not to determine the degree to which your moral compass has been degaussed, but to determine the validity of reports that Tide detergent is being stolen in record quantities. The story is spreading across the internet and through the news outlets like wildfire. Is this an hysterical non-story, like the “balloon boy” or World War Two; or, is this legitimate news, like the reports on Kim Kardashian’s weight fluctuations? Let’s look at the purported “facts”…
The word is that people are stealing Tide and selling it to buy drugs. It sells well on the black market. So well, that it is often referred to as “liquid gold” (except in parts of Northern Alaska where the frozen concoction is simply referred to as “gold”). In fact, one man just pleaded guilty to stealing twenty-five thousand dollars worth of Tide from a St Paul Walmart (not to be confused with the noted saint, Paul Walmart).
The man, Paul Costanzo, was a criminal mastermind who used the complex technique of filling his basket with the detergent and pushing it out the front door. He fooled security officials by telling them he was simply taking the dozen or so bottles out for a walk. Once he stole a thirty pound bag of rice by claiming that he was taking it to see a midnight showing of District 9. He stole a lamp claiming that it was his grandmother and she had shingles. I could go on…
It isn’t just Tide. Also being taken are shampoos and Red Bull energy drinks. Shampoo is notable in that it is the only liquid of the three that is remotely non-toxic. The issue is value and traceability. Why do you think people are stealing Tide and not New Gain Liquid with GPS Crystals? Tide and shampoos look and even taste like any other generic detergent liquid. The same goes for Red Bulls.
So, how do we stop it, assuming that we want to stop it?
First, authorities say that Tide is taken because it is an easily recognized brand. Why not change the packaging color and remove the brand name. Better yet, using mood-ring technology, make the color different in every store depending on the ambient temperature and the emotional state of the customers.
Second, to keep CDs and DVDs from being taken, manufacturers put the items in oversized containers. If every bottle of Tide is contained within a six-foot by one foot box (can be recycled as a casket for a boa constrictor) no one will escape scrutiny. If that seems unfeasible, affix clown shoes to each bottle and sell them that way…
Third, if Tide is stolen to make money to buy drugs, legalize drugs and sell them in the detergent aisle. Do I have to do all of your thinking for you?
Fourth, let the public know that, for every black market bottle of Tide that they purchase, they’ve given five dollars to a junkie. Morally, that is the equivalent of buying a Courtney Love album or opening a bank account in Miami. People won’t quit buying black market Tide; however, they may quit buying Courtney Love albums or opening bank accounts in Miami.