A national crime trend is showing up in Southern Indiana.
Louisville resident Ricky McCoy, 45, was arrested for theft and resisting law enforcement after police said he tried to steal more than $250 worth of laundry detergent and bath tissue from Kroger on East Lewis and Clark Parkway in Clarksville.
Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said he has heard about the growing trend of stealing household commodities and reselling them on the streets in other parts of the nation. He said he hasn’t noticed a trend starting in Clarksville.
“It is an easy commodity to get rid of and probably isn’t very traceable,” said Clark County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Chuck Adams.
“Hopefully it is not going to be a growing epidemic,” Palmer said. “The best thing you can do is get the communication out there on it, so that people will keep their eyes open for it and call us when they see it happening.”
According to the police report, McCoy was seen March 16 in Kroger loading up on detergent and bath tissue by the store’s loss prevention staff member Shanon Grant. Grant said in a statement to police that he witnessed McCoy take bottles of Tide and Gain laundry detergent, valued at $19.99 and $17.99 each, and cover them up with two large items of bath tissue in his cart prior to exiting the store. Once confronted, Grant said McCoy ran with the cart.
Police caught up with McCoy and arrested him in the Clarksville Branch Library parking lot, where they discovered nine bottles of Tide, two bottles of Gain and two packages of Charmin bath tissue, each valued at $19.99. According to the police report, McCoy admitted to stealing the items from Kroger.
Court records show McCoy has been charged with a class D felony and faces six month to three years in jail. He has bonded out of jail.
ACROSS THE NATION
The detergent in the familiar flame-orange bottle is well-suited for resale on the black market: Everybody needs laundry detergent, and Tide is the nation’s most popular brand. It’s expensive, selling for up to $20 for a large bottle at stores. And it doesn’t spoil.
It’s not clear how new the Tide theft phenomenon is, but organized theft has been a growing problem for U.S. retailers, costing them $3.53 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. Other popular items for thieves include baby formula, razor blades and over-the-counter medication.
“We’ve seen organized retail crime, or the theft of goods for profit, resale or barter, for many years now,” said Joseph LaRocca, senior adviser on asset protection for the NRF. LaRocca said that Tide had not shown up previously on lists of the most commonly targeted items, but that several retailers told him this week it has been a problem.
Robert McCrie, a professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said Tide is an ideal target for thieves, in part because high demand makes it easy to resell. The flat economy is a factor, as is the relatively low risk to criminals, he said.
“The idea of somebody making significant money as a drug pusher has been pretty much debunked on the streets. It’s risky and really low-profit,” he said. “Selling something like this represents little risk of physical danger.”
Unlike nasal decongestants, which can be used to make methamphetamine, laundry detergent is generally used for its intended purpose after it is stolen, authorities and industry officials say. Many thieves are selling it on the street themselves at cut-rate prices, sometimes outside coin-operated laundries.
The maker of Tide, Procter & Gamble, sounded baffled about why the brand has gotten so much attention from thieves.
“We don’t have any insight as to why this has apparently happened,” P&G spokeswoman Sarah Pasquinucci said in an email, “but if so it is unfortunate.”
— The Associated Press contributed this report.
Louisville man arrested for stealing Tide, Gain laundry detergent
A national crime trend is showing up in Southern Indiana.
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