Where thieves are stealing women's hair

Demand for extensions is fueling robberies on the streets of one of Venezuela's largest cities.

By Jonathan Berr Aug 12, 2013 8:10AM
Girl with long hair (© Dana Hoff/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images)Women in Maracaibo, Venezuela's second-largest city, are being robbed of their hair by a gang of thieves called the Piranhas.

The thieves hold a woman with long hair at gunpoint, demand she tie it into a pony tail and cut it off with a razor blade, according to the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper. The hair is then sold to beauty salons to be made into hair extensions.

Top-quality hair can fetch about $200.

The crime wave seems to have flummoxed city officials. The paper quotes Maracaibo Mayor Aveling de Rosales saying he recommends that "women avoid wearing their hair down in public."

While sad, the story isn't that shocking, given the sorry state of the Venezuelan economy, which was brought to its knees by the late President Hugo Chavez after he nationalized industries and expropriated assets of foreign investors. The prospect of hyper-inflation looms.

According to a recent Financial Times article, prices in Venezuela rose the most on record in May. Accumulated inflation for the first five months of 2013 was 19.4%, near its annual figure for 2012 of 20.1%.

Maracaibo is a city of about 4 million near the Colombian border, and it's no stranger to crime and smuggling. But Americans shouldn't get too smug about the Venezuelan news because hair thefts happen here, too.

As The New York Times noted in 2011, "...robbers in quest of human hair have killed a beauty shop supplier in Michigan and carried out heists nationwide in which they have made off with tens of thousands of dollars of hair at a time."

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

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Aug 12, 2013 9:55AM
So basically yes the world IS in fact in decline.
Aug 12, 2013 10:30AM
give it time ,thugs will start doing it here in the U.S.
Aug 12, 2013 10:26AM
I hope Beyonce is taking the necessary precautions...
Aug 12, 2013 10:57AM
Aug 12, 2013 7:10PM
They are doing it here. In many cases across Wyoming, horse tails are being cut off in the dark of night. Horses are left with rope burns, tails cut down to the bone and  trauma. We were all wondering why this whole time. The horse tails could be used for extensions on show horses. The horse show business is very competitive and vain and involves big $$. This article may be an explanation for our cases. 
Aug 12, 2013 2:42PM
'Hair'  today.........gone tomorrow.......
Aug 12, 2013 5:25PM

@ StewieGrif......


Beyonce (among others) is the one who's being supplied with the hair. She constantly wears weaves and wigs. Her real hair barely reaches her shoulders and isn't blonde. Duh. Most celebs use extensions to lengthen and/or make fuller their hair regardless of their race. Hair length, texture and color are genetic and with all the chemicals, coloring and blow drying, even that is compromised so, they buy it thus the demand...........

Aug 12, 2013 2:15PM
I should send them the adress of my husbands mistress!  Skank thinks she's Elvira.  (Sorry Elvira, I love you - you're a lovely woman and I'm sorry to insult you by comparing you to this c*m-swollowing wh*re). 
Aug 12, 2013 8:18PM
Exactly what obama wants to do. So we now know what we have to look forward to.
Aug 12, 2013 8:51PM
Hugo Chavez is being criticized by MSNBC? What? Don't they know he was the darling of super libs like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Michael Moore, and Danny Glover? Also of Naomi Campbell but she's probably not a super-lib, just mentally retarded. Watch out MSNBC. You're going to lose your image of the most biased "news" reporters around.
Aug 12, 2013 11:49AM
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