Mo' hair mo' problems
Unbeweaveable! Hair extension thefts are on the rise
A new crime trend sweeping the nation can only be described one way: Unbeweavable.
The New York Times broke the story of hair extension thefts happening all across the country — and many people were left scratching their heads.
Thieves are breaking into salons and beauty supply stores, bypassing the cash register and heading straight for the hair extensions. What makes these locks of hair so enticing? They are the most coveted and expensive of all: Remy hair.
A rash of these thefts has recently happened in Houston, with some salons losing tens of thousands of dollars worth of products. The thieves then quickly turn the stolen goods around, selling them for a fraction of the retail price to salon owners and stylists on eBay and out of the trunks of their cars.
Neal Lester, an English professor at Arizona State University, told the Times that these thefts are a reflection of the "entrepreneurial" times we now live in, comparing the black market of hair extensions to counterfeit designer goods being sold on Canal Street in New York City.
Anyone who was lucky enough to witness Chris Rock's 2009 gem, Good Hair, is familiar with the phenomenon of Remy hair. It comes from a controversial source: Indian temples. Sources have identified impoverished areas of India as the origin of the sought-after extensions because the hair found there is less likely to have been dyed or otherwise chemically damaged.
At the time, Rock stopped by Oprah to discuss the disturbing beauty trend, detailing his experiences during a visit to India. He witnessed a tonsuring ceremony at the Venkateswara Temple where, according to Rock, "the hair collected ... is auctioned off to exporters who distribute it around the planet."
None of the women know where their sacrificial hair ends up, let alone how much it is worth. The money made at the temple is second only to the Vatican, and the women who supply the hair never see a cent of it.
Lisa Amosu, owner of Houston's My Trendy Place salon, had her store robbed on May 1. Amosu is concerned less about the loss of inventory and mainly with the great injustice that has been done to many of her clients.
Most of what was taken from My Trendy Place was hair set aside for cancer patients, and many of that inventory was donations, ready to be shipped out through partnerships with Susan G. Komen, the American Cancer Society, and the Alopecia Foundation.
The women who were to receive these donations desired them for more than purely cosmetic reasons, and view the losses as an absolute tragedy. "One lady could not stop crying," said Amosu, later adding that "all we can do now is just pray."
Unhappy with the way in which the Houston Police Department handled the incident, Amosu has hired her own private investigator and has beefed up her salon's security. Still, despite news attention and investigations, the thefts keep happening around the community, adding to the devastation.
"It's a sad thing for ladies suffering from cancer," Amosu said, "It's something that they need. It's been a huge devastation."