DENVER (CBS4)– Supermarkets across Colorado are losing millions of dollars from thieves who shoplift massive amounts of Tide laundry detergent and expensive face lotion.
The thieves are often so brazen they load up a shopping cart with laundry detergent and walk right out the front door of the store.
“They’ll wipe off this entire shelf of Tide pods,” said Safeway spokeswoman Kris Staaf.
In order to combat the problem supermarkets are installing more surveillance cameras to help catch the criminals. They’re not going after casual shoplifters but what law enforcement call an organized crime ring hitting stores.
Many stores have staff devoted exclusively to preventing this kind of organized crime.
Staaf said one container of Tide pods can earn the thief $60 on the black market.
“They resell it at a laundromat it may go for $1 a scoop or $1 a pod,” said Staaf.
Police believe surveillance video of the same suspect in Ft. Lupton shows him getting away with $8,100 of Tide from six different stores.
Supermarkets are hiring undercover security who pose as shoppers to combat the problem. Stores are also installing more surveillance cameras in unlikely places like mirrors.
Razors are also a hot item to steal which is why customers must use a special distribution center that issues a noise when the product is released.
Similar noise protectors may be placed on shelves of Tide laundry detergent as a theft deterrent.
Oil of Olay products are a favorite among female thieves.
“They’ll take this whole shelf and put it right into their purse and walk out the door. These sell for $20 a piece,” said Staaf.
The store only puts out a few of the product at a time so the suspect can get away with less.
The thieve sell the stolen goods on eBay and at flea markets.