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Posted: 5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

Baby formula, Tide traded for drugs

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By Gabrielle Enright

WHIO-TV

The next time you go shopping, you may look at some items on the shelf a little differently.

Things you buy everyday like Tide detergent, baby formula, razors, even energy drinks, are being stolen and sold on the black market.

"They'll come and just wipe out the whole shelf," said Dennis Dansak, head of the organized retail crime division for Kroger. "Red Bull is popular among consumers which means it's popular among the boosters."

Boosters are the people who steal these items and use a special method to hide them in their carts.

Dansak said, "They'll put everything on the outside of the cart and all the high-theft items inside, nesting it. Typically, they'll put a bag of dog food over it."

The boosters take the stolen good to people called fences. The fences sell the items for cash and use the money to buy drugs like heroin.

Shoppers we talked with were surprised to hear that this is going on around them in stores.

"I wouldn't think anything in a grocery store could be sold for Oxycontin or anything else," said Secila Henry of Dayton.

The National Retail Federation said it's a 40-billion dollar a year problem. That is why local stores and law enforcement officers are cracking down.

Locally, they are teaming up in a task force called "IROC," or Investigating Retail Organized Crime.

"They can trade a gallon of laundry detergent for a heroin capsule," said Bob Bowman of IROC.

Recently, they arrested a man for stealing more than a $1,000 in bras from Victoria's Secret at Fairfield Commons Mall. They are also looking for a woman who walked out of a Target in Beavercreek with more than a dozen razors.

Kroger is fighting back with special packaging and labels.

"You can't just peel it off. You have to chip it off and they would have to take the time," said Dansak.

Employees are being trained to try to talk with suspicious shoppers. If you see someone acting suspiciously, please report the person to store security.

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