A Bullish Black Market For...Laundry Detergent?

A Bullish Black Market For...Laundry Detergent?

We explore how Tide detergent became a hot commodity in underground economies around the country, and why authorities are concerned.

Authorities in Prince George's County, Md., and across the country, are dealing with an unusual, if not entirely new, problem: thefts of Tide detergent are spiking because the product's black market value is rising. We consider the factors, from sentencing laws to brand loyalty, that are driving the phenomenon.


Ben Paynter

writer and journalist; 2012 James Beard Foundation Award Winner

Sergeant Aubrey Thompson

Director, Organized Retail Crime Unit of the Prince George’s County Police Department

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Sgt. Aubrey Thompson of the Prince George's County Police Department says local thieves have been selling Tide laundry detergent on the black market. Thompson described an undercover sting last year at a Vietnamese nail salon in which officers discovered large quantities of Tide being shipped overseas. The salon was also dilluting near-empty bottles of detergent with water in order to double profits. "It's high reward. You're going to sell out that Tide as soon as you leave the store," Thompson said.

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The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.