It’s not often that theft in San Leandro makes it onto the front page of The New York Times.
Tuesday’s Times ran a story about a national trend of robbing beauty salons and distributors, not of money, but of top-dollar human hair. The story mentioned San Leandro-based , which was robbed last month of some $50,000 worth of hair extensions.
Similar robberies have taken place in recent months in San Diego, Houston, Missouri City, TX, and Dearborn, MI.
In Dearborn, gunmen shot and killed the owner of a beauty supply store during a holdup in March.
The on Hesperian Boulevard occurred in the early morning, before the store opened. Surveillance cameras recorded four young men kicking in the door and heading straight to the most expensive hair pieces, bypassing the cash register.
The store, which opened less than six months ago, specializes in hair extensions and wigs imported from India. The Times reports that Remy hair from Indian women has become increasingly coveted, and expensive, triggering a black market for the hair.
Authorities told the Times that bootleggers are selling stolen hair out of car trunks and on the streets for well under salon and supply store prices.
Hair Divas owner Anne Davis said she’s been approached in the past about buying hair from seemingly informal sources.
“They’ll notice you maybe at a mall or walking down the street, and they’ll notice you wear extensions and they’ll stop you and approach you,” she said.
Davis said she used to know some people who sold hair out of their car, but she thought they had a legitimate business.
Immediately following the Hair Divas robbery, Davis posted the surveillance video of the suspects on Facebook and YouTube and offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who would come forward to identify them.
San Leandro Police said they were still investigating the crime. Davis said someone called her store last week to give her a lead on one of the suspects, which she passed on to the police.
Davis said she had done everything she could think of to keep her store secure. Since the robbery, she has installed two additional security cameras outside of the building, plus a Bull Horn alarm that sets off flashing lights and a siren outside the building if triggered.
That’s in addition to the cameras, alarm and panic button she already had in place at the time of the robbery.
“I don’t know what else I can do,” she said.