The prolonged economic downturn has some criminals thinking creatively. Why settle for stealing the usual things, such as fancy cars and gold jewelry? As it turns out, there’s a market for just about anything when fortunes are down.

The last year has seen a rash of head-scratching thefts. It seems like nothing is out of bounds, from game-day snacks to dead grass to pickup truck parts.

Tide Detergent–

Tide detergent is known as “liquid gold” on the streets because it can sell for so much on the black market, NBC News reports. Shoplifters load up their carts with bottles and run for the door.

Last year, police in Maryland tracked a stolen-Tide crime ring to a nail salon that was buying the detergent and reselling it to stores in other countries.

How did Tide become street currency? It’s a popular brand with high resale value, and it’s used by homes across the economic spectrum, The Daily reports. “It’s the item to steal,” one Kentucky police detective told The Daily.

Chicken wings–

A rush to grab chicken wings before the Super Bowl is nothing new. But two workers at a cold storage warehouse in Georgia allegedly took that to the extreme in December by lifting $65,000 worth of chicken wings.

Dewayne Patterson and Renaldo Jackson are accused of renting a truck, driving it to the loading area at their company and making off with 10 pallets of Tyson frozen wings, ABC News reports.

One 5-pound bag of Tyson’s frozen chicken wings sells for about $12.50, CBS Atlanta reports. The two men face charges, but it’s unclear what happened to the wings.

Human hair–

One Chicago beauty supply store lost $230,000 worth of human-hair extensions last year when thieves broke in and stole six duffel bags full.

The three criminals disabled the store’s alarm in the hair-raising scheme and crawled along the floor to avoid motion detectors, the Chicago Tribune reports. The store’s owner thinks the thieves will try to resell the extensions on the street or directly to salons.

Gold teeth

Police in Colorado got a call from a pawnshop last year saying that one person was selling quite a few gold teeth. They soon found out the man, a local embalmer, had sold dozens of teeth to different shops, reports the Longmont Times-Call.

The embalmer, Adrian Kline, reportedly told pawnshops that the mortuary where he worked would throw the teeth away otherwise, so he was selling them to raise money for needy children.

Police suspected Kline of removing gold crowns from bodies and gold teeth from cremated remains, according to the Times-Call. He was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and 60 hours of community service

Hay–

Last summer’s record droughts and grass fires dried up hay supplies nationwide, leading to a rash of hay thefts. Some farmers reported entire trailer-loads of round bales disappearing, at a value of as much as $200 per bale, reports Farm Progress.

Farmers are now taking unprecedented steps to protect supplies and mark hay as theirs. They’re reinforcing gates, painting hay bales with their brands and even weaving ribbons into their hay, The New York Times reports.

The situation got so bad in one Oklahoma town that the local sheriff bugged a bale of hay with a GPS tracking device and waited for the thieves to take the bait. When the thieves did, he jumped in his car and pulled over a truck containing the stolen hay.

Driveways

The paving stones that make driveways and walkways beautiful are worth a pretty penny, and thieves have been making off with them in broad daylight.

Last December, a farm owner in Reddick, Fla., drove home and felt a bump as her vehicle rolled over the driveway. She got out and saw that some of her concrete paving stones were missing, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.

Two days later, a neighbor called the police after seeing two people loading more concrete pavers from the driveway into their Dodge pickup.

Maple syrup–

Maple syrup — the real stuff, not the manufactured knockoffs — is quite expensive, and that led thieves in Quebec to plan a massive heist last year.

About 2.7 million kilos of maple syrup, enough topping for 183 million pancakes, were lifted from a warehouse stocking $30 million worth of the breakfast staple.

Authorities arrested three people in December for the crime and recovered most of the syrup, the Toronto Star reports.

About 75% of the world’s supply of maple syrup comes from Quebec.

Cloth napkins–

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says that thousands of linen napkins are stolen every month at his chain of restaurants. He told the Radio Times that his restaurants lose about 30,000 of the customized blue-and-white napkins a month. (Oliver’s publicist later said that rather steep number was an exaggeration.)

While Oliver chalked the thefts up to the economic downturn, some diners apparently just wanted a souvenir. They brag about their stolen napkins on Twitter and sell them on eBay.

(source–Kim Peterson MSN Money)

Also On 106.7 WTLC: