Stealing hair? It seems like an odd sort of crime, but when you consider the price many women pay for extensions, it's not so difficult to see the value in a well-maintained head of hair. Hair theft may be a growing problem in the Venezuelan coastal city of Maracaibo, capital of the state of Zulia, where a number of women have been attacked by people who have made off with a handful of their hair. As the CNN report states, these fast-and-ferocious thieves, known as "piranhas" are grabbing women by the hair, producing a set of scissors and lopping it off.
The site quotes one woman as describing the situation as traumatic, which probably isn't an overstatement. On one hand, cutting off a person's hair isn't inflicting any physical pain on them. But on the other hand, it's theft, and they're removing and stealing something that is physically a part of another person against their will, which is pretty disturbing, so I wouldn't fault any of these women for feeling traumatized, first by the attack, which would be startling by itself, and then by the realization that some assailant has made off with some or most of their hair. One woman spoke about being approached by two women at a mall, when they attacked her and cut her hair.
"I thought they were going to steal my cell phone, because I had it in my hand at the time, but they took out scissors," she said. "They did not give me a chance to think or to run or anything. And when I looked, I no longer had any hair."
CNN goes on to report that there was at least one incident of hair theft reported in Colombia, so it's probably not exclusive to Venezuela. And given the price good quality natural hair fetches these days (CNN reports upwards of $500) it seems likely that the thieves are looking to profit off the stolen hair. Meanwhile, security in the state of Zulia is reportedly stepping up its patrols, but they haven't received any formal complaints. At this point, it sounds like it's unclear just how big an issue this is, as women may not be coming forward to report the incident.
Hair is a commodity. Not only can it be bought and sold, but it can also be donated. Charities like Locks of Love collect donated hair for hair prosthetics for disadvantaged kids suffering from long-term medical hair loss due to a variety of diagnosis. It's probably highly unlikely that any of these reported hair thieves are Robin Hooding the hair, but it does draw attention to the demand for hair, for purposes of style or necessity. If you're planning on chopping off your own hair, you might consider donating it to a worthy cause. In the meantime, let's hope these piranhas and the hair theft issue don't become a trend.
Here's a news report of a "hair heist" that took place at a business months ago, in which hair extensions were stolen, except in this case, it wasn't right off of people's heads. Still, it's another demonstration of the value of hair these days.