Thieves broke through a wall overnight and made off with $230,000 in hair extensions from a Southeast Side beauty supply store, police and the store owner said.
35th Street Beauty Supply, 260 E. 35th St., was bustling Saturday afternoon, but amid the walls covered with wigs and aisles filled with hair care products, owner Don Shin’s most valuable merchandise was gone.
Three thieves who hammered their way into the business around 2 a.m. from an adjoining vacant storefront made off exclusively with natural hair extensions, the expensive, high-demand boxes of human hair women use for hair weaves, Chicago police and Chin said.
“They knew what they were doing. They didn’t take any of the cheap stuff,” Shin said. Surveillance footage showed three people carrying out a total of six large duffel bags filled with the hair extensions, which Shin expects the thieves will try to sell on the street or directly to salons.
Shin had been renovating the empty adjacent storefront to expand his business and hadn’t put in alarms there yet. After breaking through the wall, the thieves crawled along the floor to evade motion detectors before ripping the wiring out of the alarm system.
Real hair extensions have been steadily going up in price as their popularity keeps increasing, Shin said, so he buys as much inventory as he can whenever he finds it.
“This is an investment for me,” he said. “It’s hard to find the natural hair right now, it isn’t always available. So when I have a chance, I buy it.”
Hair weaves have been popular for years, especially in the African-American community, and natural hair is sought after because it looks best, making it a target for thefts around Chicago and elsewhere. But Shin said women of all ethnicities are increasingly interested in lengthening their hair.
Leaving 35th Street Beauty Supply, Karina Edingburg said hair weaves are becoming more popular as they lose their stigma.
“It used to be embarrassing, but now everybody just does it,” Edingburg said. “Women with long hair even use extensions now, to make their hair even longer.”
And the natural hair is by far the most in demand because it just looks more natural, said her mother, Caroline Edingburg. “It’s all about looking good and feeling good,” she said.
In April 2011, a similar burglary occurred at another beauty supply store on the 600 block of West Roosevelt Road when daring burglars made off with nearly $80,000 worth of human hair.
In last year’s burglary, thieves targeted the most expensive brands of the tresses, like Indi Remy, Saga and Bohyme, which are more durable and comfortable, and left behind poorer-quality synthetic locks. Police and store owners have said robbers know to target the pricier brands.
In that burglary, videotaped surveillance outside the shop showed that a white van drove up to the back of the store and three men struggled with a heavy steel door that was sealed tight with two deadbolt locks. The men then used a metal pry bar to open the door.
As two of the men went into the shop, one man stood outside and acted as a lookout. Within seconds, the men were back out of the shop with large plastic bins full of the packages of hair and other items, including wigs with natural hair. The burglars in that case left money untouched.
The store owner said today there have been no arrests in that burglary.
Shin said police are hopeful the thieves this time will draw notice trying to unload such a large quantity of hair. “It’s going to be hard (to catch them), but they are probably going to try to sell it quickly,” he said.
Found at the Chicago Tribune
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