Hair-Extension Thefts on the Rise

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Hold onto your weaves! Hair-extensions thefts are on the rise.

Hair salons and beauty supply stores are beefing up their security in response to an alarming rise in thefts, the New York Times reports.

But it's not cash that criminals are after—it's hair extensions.

Driven by an increased demand for high-priced human hair extensions (with remy hair from India being the most popular and most expensive), thieves are targeting salons and shops in hopes of making off with a stash of luxury weaves that can be resold illegally.

“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,’” Lisa Amosu, the owner of Houston's My Trendy Place salon—which lost $150,000 worth of human hair extensions in a recent break-in—tells the paper. “Whoever did it knew exactly what they wanted. They didn’t even bother with the synthetic hair.”

The past two months have seen a series of nationwide heists that have resulted in the cumulative loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of hair as well as the death of Michigan beauty shop supplier Jay Shin, who was killed during a holdup.

The stolen strands may be resold online to other salons and shops, or on the street, where authorities say hair extensions worth $80 retail are being sold for $25 out of car trunks in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

“They’re [criminals] 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,” Amosu says. “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.”

In response to the break-ins, some salon and shop owners are taking extra security precautions to protect their extensions, including hiring security guards, installing bulletproof glass and alarms, and requiring customers to show identification in order to enter.

"This is not OK,” says Ann Davis, whose California beauty shop lost $60,000 in extensions in April. “I’m a little fearful.”

Meanwhile, see what hairstylists are in hot pursuit of ... from fishing suppliers.