The Los Angeles Times has called the phenomenon a "nationwide wave of Tide laundry detergent thefts," based upon allegations in the Midwest against an unemployed man who says he could not afford the detergent and a separate case from the East Coast.

Some retailers reportedly have placed anti-theft devices as publications are calling the detergent "liquid gold." Sources suggest people are stealing the detergent to sell at flea markets. A spokesperson for the retailer that has begun placing anti-theft devices on some bottles downplays the issue saying it is not new and is also not a chain-wide issue for that retailer. Nonetheless, the recent California case involves allegations against a man accusing him of commercial burglary.

Authorities say the man walked through the store, put nine bottles of the detergent in a grocery cart and left the store. A store manager says that he confronted the accused in the parking lot before the man left in a Ford Explorer.

Police say the man's Ford ran into an off-duty ambulance, injuring a paramedic and leaving the area. A witness to the accident reportedly followed the Ford, and alerted law enforcement to the whereabouts of the Ford. The driver was reportedly arrested in Lake Forest.

Police claim that the man accused of stealing nine bottles of laundry detergent on February 7 will be facing 10 counts of related commercial burglary charges. He is scheduled to appear in court next week for a preliminary hearing. The Los Angeles Times reports that prosecutors claim in the criminal complaint that the man has at least two "serious and violent" felony convictions on his record.

For now, he is in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Tide detergent theft suspect held on $1-million bail in O.C.," Matt Stevens, March 14, 2012