Riverton Man Faces Up To 10 Years In Prison For Shoplifting Tide Pods

A Riverton man accused of stealing a $13 pack of Tide Pods from the local Walmart on Wednesday could get up to 10 years in prison if convicted of a felony as a repeat offender.

Clair McFarland

February 02, 20243 min read

The Walmart Superstore in Riverton, Wyoming.
The Walmart Superstore in Riverton, Wyoming. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Police have no clue why a Riverton man would steal a $13 box of Tide Pods from Walmart, but they say he did.

A Riverton Police Department call notation says Samuel Whiteplume, 42, was already trespassed from the local Walmart when a police sergeant moonlighting as store security Wednesday night spotted him. And because he’d already been caught allegedly shoplifting from the store, this offense is a felony that could get him up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

When the sergeant confronted Whiteplume, he took off, so the sergeant chased and tackled him, RPD Capt. Wes Romero told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

“They went to the ground, where the unopened bag of Tide Pods fell from under (Whiteplume’s) sweatshirt,” said Romero.

The sergeant also allegedly discovered a syringe caked with methamphetamine residue.

But Tide Pods aren’t an ingredient in methamphetamine, Romero assured Cowboy State Daily.

The captain could only think of two possible Tide-Pod needs pressing enough to make a man steal them: Actually doing laundry, or eating them to revive a dangerous TikTok fad from six years ago.

“Sounds like that’s coming back around again,” said Romero of the fad. But the fad, which resulted in more than 12,000 calls to poison control centers across the country in 2018, according to The Washington Post.

Misuse of Tide Pods has not been reported as problematic in Fremont County or around Wyoming.

Wyoming Probably Isn’t Eating That

Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Director Ronnie Jones also scratched his head at the alleged Tide-Pod theft.

The fad was a “huge problem” nationally while it lasted, but DCI hasn’t had to deal with Wyomingites eating Tide Pods. Local agencies may have, Jones added.

There’s always a chance the alleged thief really, really had to do some laundry, Jones said.

Laundry would be the better choice: Cosmopolitan reported in 2018 at the height of Tide Pod insanity that sucking on a Tide Pod sparks a wave of nausea, then sharp inhalation, then coughing, oral burning, facial swelling, lung erosion, mind grogginess and chemical burns to the esophagus.

Either Way

Whatever Whiteplume’s plan for the Tide Pods, police recommended one count of felony burglary against him, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

That’s a steeper charge Fremont County invokes in a unique way to address repeat shoplifting: A person who shoplifts from a store gets a trespass notice not to enter that store. If he shoplifts from the store again, he can be charged with felony burglary since he had no legal right to be in the store to begin with.

RPD also recommended misdemeanor charges of interference (for allegedly running from the sergeant), of theft (because of the Tide Pods), and of methamphetamine possession (because of the needle).

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter