Human hair — that thing that most of us are in abundance of — is a hotter commodity than you might think. The demand for extensions made from human hair is on the rise, and consequently so is the incidence of hair theft.
This is no minor crime, explains the New York Times. Thieves are employing violent means to obtain the expensive locks, which can retail for up to $200 per package (at least two packages are necessary for a full head of extensions). Security cameras, guards, and partitions are often no match for the criminals. An owner of a beauty supply store in Michigan was killed during a robbery that left his killers with $10,000 worth of extensions. A store in Houston was recently robbed of $150,000 worth of hair. The thieves didn’t touch the store’s cash register.
These criminals are also rather savvy, going straight for the good stuff: remy hair, which still has its cuticle layer attached. After obtaining the hair, thieves sell the illegal goods out of car trunks and on the internet. Often the hair is sold for a lot less than the retail price, which drives sales. The buyers tend to be hairstylists who work from home.
Explains Arizona State University professor Neal Lester: “Folks are being entrepreneurial, and weaves and hair extensions are expensive, so it’s not surprising that people sell hair the way they sell things on Canal Street, like knock-off purses.” This is creepy. And scary. Also scary? A lot of law enforcement officers don’t even know this is problem, making it difficult to prevent.