Fertilizer Retailer Adds Dye to Prevent Thefts Intended for Crystal Meth Production

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) -- A fertilizer company has begun adding a bubble-gum pink dye to its anhydrous ammonia supply that stains thieves' hands if they spill it on themselves.

Royster-Clark Inc., which has nine western Indiana outlets, hopes the GloTell additive deters thefts by methamphetamine makers who use the fertilizer for their drug recipes.

Anhydrous ammonia, a gaseous farm fertilizer, is frequently stolen from large field tanks by meth cooks and their suppliers.

The dye has no effect on crops or soil, but when the fertilizer is released, it will stain bright pink whatever it touches, said Scott Spelman, GloTell sales director.

"When someone steals the actual ammonia, any person who comes into contact with the treated ammonia will have a stain,'' he said.

After the stain fades, an ultraviolet light can still detect it for 72 hours.

GloTell-injected tanks were first sold at 25 of Royster-Clark's 300 retailers with the highest theft rates, including Terre Haute, Spelman said. It is now available at 80 locations.

The dye also makes meth retain moisture, so that if a cook tries to make meth with the dyed ammonia, the result will be a slimy pink substance, he said.

Farmers also can use it to spot leaks in tanks.

Virginia-based Royster-Clark, which operates in 18 states, has exclusive marketing and distribution rights for GloTell. While not all retailers pass on the extra cost for the dye to customers, adding GloTell to a tank costs about $9 per ton of ammonia.