Nation Plagued By Rash Of Hair Extension Thefts

Forget what Glenn Beck's sponsors have told you: In these difficult economic times, America's most precious commodity isn't gold, but human hair.

The New York Times reports today on a troubling crime that's sweeping the nation. In recent months many beauty salons have been robbed of thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions. It's gotten so bad that a beauty shop supplier in Michigan was killed during a recent heist. Lisa Amosu, whose Houston salon My Trendy Place was recently robbed of $150,000 worth of extensions, says of the trend:

"I heard about it from a couple of different supply companies and customers who said: ‘Guard your inventory. There's a rash of this going on,' ... Whoever did it knew exactly what they wanted. They didn't even bother with the synthetic hair."

Theives are going after remy hair, particularly the products supplied by Indian women. The hair is sold with its cuticle layer still on, and is more manageable and natural looking. Enough hair to cover a person's entire head can cost around $400.

Theives have been walking past cash registers and flat-screen TVs and making off with only the human hair. Chicago detective Vito Ferro, who's investigating an extensions robbery worth $90,000, says burlars seem to be taking orders for specific types of hair. "It's like someone says, ‘I'm looking for a 1992 Cadillac Eldorado,' and so you go out looking for that car," he said.

But criminals are also hawking the packages everywhere from eBay to street corners. Amosu says:

"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 ... 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."

In a world where baby formula has to be locked down at many stores, perhaps it isn't surprising that we need security systems even for a product that grows on human heads.

Costly Hairstyle Is a Beauty Trend That Draws Thieves' Notice [NYT]

image via Raia/Shutterstock.