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.
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
dirty job: Police nationwide take on soaring Tide detergent theft
officials across the country are puzzled over a crime wave targeting an unlikely
item: Tide laundry detergent.
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.
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.
Gas Prices Create Smoking-Hot Demand for Cooking Oil" (USA Today)
economy, it's tough enough being a restaurant owner, but now you have to
safeguard your garbage, too.
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.
Stealing X-Rays For The Silver Inside" (CBS)
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.
Captain Kelly Richardson says the suspects are also accused of similar
attempts at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport and
Saints Medical Center in Lowell.
silver in X-ray film sheets and it can be harvested by using a simple
they melt the film the silver comes off and then they turn around and sell
the silver,” says Captain Richardson.
Swipe Sewer Grates in New Haven" (WTNH)
Conn. - Police in New Haven are trying to figure out who's been swiping
dozens of sewer grates from city streets.
Heights has been hit hard. At almost every turn of Russell Street new grates
are visible. Police say they're replacing them as fast as they can.
as anything would be reported stolen, it would be taken care of," said
David Hartman, New Haven Police, "even on the overnight, it would be an
If the gaping
hole was left uncovered someone could be seriously hurt, and even killed. In
the last three weeks, 40 sewer grates have been pried up from the street and
Stolen From Baseball Fields" (MyFoxNY.com)
off almost all of the bleachers from a Long Island baseball complex and left
behind a partially disassembled set they didn't finish stripping.
It happened at
Smith Field at the Sachem Little League complex in Ronkonkoma. It's unclear
exactly when the thefts took place but little pieces from the 300 pound
bleachers were found scattered across the field over the weekend.
Mark Zellman is the assistant commissioner of the league that
uses the facility.
the state of the economy, showing how tough things are," Zellman says.
The gates of the
stadium were still locked, making it appear that the bleachers were taken
apart and lifted over the fence piece-by-piece.
To Your Tuba: Brass Bandits Hit L.A. Schools" (NPR)
"black market" usually summon images of drugs, guns or pirated DVDs
— not tubas. Yet authorities in Los Angeles say the instrument is in
such high demand that the black market may be what's driving a wave of local
is teaching an after-lunch band class at the scene of one recent tuba crime
— the music room at South Gate High School outside L.A. He starts with
a request only a band teacher would make.
we rinse out folks — we don't need any hamburgers or hot chilies coming
through those instruments," he says.
While the kids
rinse out and tune up, Gonzalez points to a row of gashes along the door
jamb. He and his students noticed them one morning earlier this school year.
"I'm walking in, I'm like, 'That was never there before,' and I'm like,
'You know what, guys? I think somebody tried to break in,' "
noticed something else. Once the thieves got in, they bypassed a computer as
well as a stash of valuable flutes, saxophones and clarinets. According to
Gonzalez, "All they took were the tubas."
Steal Church's Heat Pumps" (Morganton News Herald)
MORGANTON -- A
local church has become the latest victim of the growing number of copper
thefts in Burke County.
Willow Tree AME Church reported Saturday that someone stripped four heat
pumps at the 2500 Willow Tree Church Road building, according to a
sheriff’s report. Damage was estimated at $18,000.
The Rev. Rupert
G. Ferguson said his parishioners are irate about the theft.
ripped us off,” he said. “… They wreaked havoc.”
Louis Brick Thieves Becoming More Brazen" (Riverfront Times)
The bandits who
are slowly dismantling north St. Louis -- brick by brick -- are becoming more
daring these days.
historian Michael Allen, who has perhaps written more than anyone on the
subject of brick thievery, notes on his blog that the mason rustlers are now
working heavily trafficked streets north of Delmar Boulevard.
thieves apparently have carte blanche to harvest building stock on the north
side's busiest streets," writes Allen, who reports that two abandoned
properties on Page and St. Louis avenues have recently been targeted.
these two buildings, the city has lost four housing units that could have
been rehabilitated. Extend that count across every building hit by brick
theft in the last seven years, and we have lost at least 200 housing
units," adds Allen.
believes the thieves were looking to make a quick buck off the copper inside
the air conditioners.
Balls Stolen from War Memorial" (Portsmouth
Police, Public Works probe theft of several pieces of Soldiers and Sailors
Goodwin Park statue and estimated damage of $10,000.
The city Public
Works Department and Police are probing the attempted theft of cannon balls
and several other metal pieces from the Soldiers and Sailors war memorial in
Director Steve Parkinson said Friday morning police discovered the theft and
vandalism to the 1888 war memorial to Civil War soldiers and sailors last
weekend after they received a call from New Castle Police.
that the replica cannon balls that sit on top of a metal box were dumped in
New Castle near the Wentworth Marina sometime last Saturday.
out there and checked out the statue and sure enough the metal box and cannon
balls were cut off," Parkinson said.
Police Search for Beehive Thieves" (Houston Chronicle)
their search for suspects who stole a 3-foot-tall active beehive from a
KHOU and KTRK
reported on the incident, which took place over the weekend at Haven, located
cameras revealed the thieves toting away the hive from behind the restaurant
early Saturday morning.
houses about 5,000 bees and is worth $1,000, according to Haven’s chef,
farm-to-table restaurant relies on local ingredients and uses the beehive to
pollinate plants and produce honey.
He told KHOU he
believes the bandits knew what they were doing.
not going to just pull up to a bee hive and move it. They came in at night,
when it was cold and wet. Bees are the most docile at that time.
They’re going to stay huddled up in their hive, on top of one another,
creating heat to stay warm and stay dry,” he said.
Seeking Brazen Hair Weave Thieves" (San Francisco Appeal)
They came in
for locks of hair, but now one of them is locked up.
One woman was
arrested and three others remain outstanding after they allegedly went into a
San Francisco beauty supply store, cut hair weaves from a display case and
then fled on Wednesday evening, a police spokesman said.
The robbery was
reported at about 6:30 p.m. at the Sally Beauty Supply store at 2675 Geary
Blvd., in the old Sears/Mervyns shopping complex.
walked into the store and surrounded the area where the hair weaves are
displayed. A store employee tried to intervene after she noticed one of the
suspects had some sort of box cutter or knife that she was using to cut the
weaves off of the display, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.
It's a good
thing the economy is "recovering." Otherwise, I'd hate to think
about what might be targeted next.
Michael J. Panzner