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Thieves Expanding Their Horizons Even More

 March 14, 2012 01:00 AM

In "Thieves Expand Their Horizons," I noted that America's "recovery" had "spawned an illicit interest in items that have not been traditionally targeted by criminal elements," including utility poles, air conditioners, hot air balloons, ammonia tanks, and outdoor furniture. A follow-up post, "Thieves Still Expanding Their Horizons," added livestock, pets, prescription drugs, tailgates, fishing reels, medical services, and bridges to the list.

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But that wasn't the end of it. Despite all the "good news" we keep hearing lately (not to mention a stock market that only goes up), it seems that the range of goods and services being wrongfully acquired (and likely sold for quick cash at a fraction of their true value) is expanding fast, as the following reports attest:


"Grime Wave" (The Daily)

It's a dirty job: Police nationwide take on soaring Tide detergent theft

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

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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.

Cooking Oil

"Rising Gas Prices Create Smoking-Hot Demand for Cooking Oil" (USA Today)

In today's economy, it's tough enough being a restaurant owner, but now you have to safeguard your garbage, too.

From California to Maine, thefts of used cooking oil are on the rise — driven by the rising price of oil that makes biofuels more cost competitive with fossil fuels. Like thieves who ransack foreclosed homes for copper wire, higher prices for used cooking oil can attract people with a hunger for crime as well as dinner.

The old cooking oil, which has been used for decades in the chemical and animal feed industries, is now a hot commodity, as biodiesel manufacturers fight for raw materials . Biodiesel is gaining in popularity as a transportation fuel. The largest consumers are fleet operators, including municipal buses and courier firms like FedEx.


"Thieves Stealing X-Rays For The Silver Inside" (CBS)

BOSTON – You can now add X-rays to the list of targets for metal thieves looking to make a quick buck in a down economy.

Two Florida men have been charged with stealing old X-rays from Lowell General Hospital that were supposed to be recycled back in August.

Lowell Police Captain Kelly Richardson says the suspects are also accused of similar attempts at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport and Saints Medical Center in Lowell.

There's silver in X-ray film sheets and it can be harvested by using a simple chemical solution.

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