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Theft of human hair extensions and wigs is on the rise. Some robberies have ended in death, while others have perplexed cops completely: it seems thieves would rather walk out with hair than cash.

According to the New York Times, “during the past two months alone, 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.”

Once stolen, the hair is typically sold on the street or on the Internet, including eBay, shop owners and the police say. In recent weeks, packages of hair that may have sold for $80 or $100 retail have sold for as little as $25 out of car trunks in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston, the authorities said.

The most expensive hair type — and the one in highest demand by thieves and paying customers alike — is remy hair, which unlike most other varieties is sold with its outermost cuticle layer intact. This allows it to look more natural and to last longer without tangling. Remy hair from Indian women is the most popular. (Remy hair extensions can cost as much as $200 per package and the average person requires at least two packages.)

In addition to a $150,000 Houston robbery this month, thieves have recently taken $10,000 in hair from a San Diego shop; $85,000 from a business in Missouri City, Tex.; $10,000 from a shop in Dearborn, Mich.; and $60,000 from a business in San Leandro, California.

Two years ago, at the Beauty One hair supply store in Chicago, thieves went after the store’s cash. But last month, they bypassed the register altogether and took just the hair, which was valued at $90,000.

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