Prince George's County police said criminals are stealing Tide laundry detergent to exchange it for drugs.
The county has been cracking down on Tide thefts. Thieves walk into stores, load the readily accessible bottles of detergent into their shopping carts and then run off to awaiting cars, officials said.
The county retail theft unit called Tide "Liquid Gold" on the street because of its lucrative value on the black market.
In 2012, Prince George's County police broke up an international crime ring operating inside a Capitol Heights, Md., nail salon. The suspects would sell the stolen Tide overseas.
More recently, police said, criminals are trading Tide for marijuana and crack cocaine. The thieves would steal $20 bottles of tide, exchanging them for bags of drugs. The dealers would sell the detergent to stores that illegally re-sell the stolen items.
The illegal sales generate no sales tax in Maryland, often forcing stores to charge more for the product.
Police said the reason why Tide is chosen over other detergents is because of its popularity.