I knew weaves were big business, but I had no idea that it was this big.

Today the New York Times published an article about a disturbing new trend in the hair industry—human hair theft.

According to the article, over the past few months salons and beauty stores across the country have experienced a rash of thefts involving human hair extensions. In many of the robberies thieves bypassed seemingly valuable things such as flat screen TVs, cash registers, and digital cameras and went straight for the hair.

From Texas to Michigan to California and all parts in between, thieves have been breaking into stores and taking Remy hair, one of the most valuable types on the market.

“In addition to the $150,000 Houston robbery this month, thieves have recently taken $10,000 in hair from a San Diego shop; $85,000 from a business in Missouri City, Tex.; $10,000 from a shop in Dearborn, Mich.; and $60,000 from a business in San Leandro, Calif.”

Hair theft has become one of the easiest types of crimes to carry out. Not only do thieves rake in thousands of dollars worth of hair on each heist, but many are also able to quickly sell the hair on the street or on the Internet to turn a fast profit.

In recent months, the NY Times reports, packages of hair have been showing up on the streets of L.A., Houston, Philadelphia, and in the Bay Area and are selling for $25 per package as opposed to the retail price of $80 to $100.

Police suspect many of the thieves have been taken custom orders for the hair, and have even sold the stolen hair to stylists and customers.

“They’re selling it to stylists who work out of their house, they’re selling it on the street, they’re selling it out of the car,” said Ms. Amosu of My Trendy Place. “People who don’t want to pay the prices will buy it from the hustle man. It’s like the bootleg DVDs and the fake purses. But this is a quality product.”

Because of the profit margin involved in the stolen hair racket, police have seen an uptick in violence. One storeowner in Michigan was murdered and others have been assaulted.

The New York Times reports:

In Dearborn, Mich., Jay Shin, the owner of Sunrise Beauty Supply, was killed during a holdup on March 15 by gunmen who stole 80 packages of hair extensions worth about $10,000. Two young men have been arrested.

Assaults have been reported even when only a small amount of hair is involved. In West Palm Beach, Fla., a 16-year-old girl sprayed a clerk with pepper spray last year as she made off with extensions. And in Lawton, Okla., the police said a customer who ran out of a store with extensions tried to escape with the storeowner clinging to the hood of her car.

The violence has prompted many shop owners to hire security guards and install expensive alarm systems, but this has seemed to do little to deter thieves, many of whom approach salon owners they have robbed to try to sell them the stolen hair.

Stylists are rightly worried, not only about their inventory, but also for their safety. As the demands for hair extensions continue to grow, thieves will continue do just about anything to cash in.

So the next time someone approaches you trying to sell high-quality hair at a drastically discounted price, think twice, because it might just be stolen.

 

*photo courtesy of The New York Times
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  • If you have alopecia, buy a hat if your head is cold or get creative with head scarves. It is cheaper, lasts longer and doesn’t look half as odd as some of these weaves I see sitting on women’s heads!