Apparently Tide brand detergent is a hot item for thieves this year. The NY Times suggests one reason may be that it is being used as currency for drug deals, based on an article in NY Mag. This is stupid, because bottles of Tide are heavy, and not very valuable. One of the NY Times’ debaters makes a good point that shoplifting has a relatively minor penalty, unlike breaking and entering [burglary] or mugging [robbery]. In Florida, either of these crimes can net a thief up to 15 years in prison, while a first offense of shoplifting maxes out at 60 days in jail. Plus, Tide is pretty fungible, and has now been traded enough to have a known street value in certain places. However, Dealing in Stolen Property is a serious offense: that also subjects defendants to up to 15 years in prison. The Sale/Purchase with possession of drugs penalties go even higher.
So, don’t do drugs. But more importantly, don’t steal to pay for your drug habit. The majority of the non-driving criminal cases I see are either drugs or people stealing or selling stolen property to pay for their drugs. I would estimate similar numbers of people go to prison for stealing and dealing property as they do for drugs, and not all of the drug offender treatment options are available. Even shoplifting can send you to prison, depending on your past record. Florida has a very harsh sentencing scheme, but that’s another post.
Definitely check out the NY Magazine article! It’s fascinating: http://nymag.com/news/features/tide-detergent-drugs-2013-1/