08.12.132:39 PM ET

Venezuelan Gang Chops Off Women’s Hair

‘When I looked, I no longer had any hair.’

Most women, when they are targeted by thieves, expect their handbags or jewelry to be stolen. But they don’t expect to lose their hair. In Venezuela, gang members known as piranhas have been attacking women for their hair, and then selling it. Here’s how it works: a local gang holds women at gunpoint and demand they tie their hair into ponytails so that they can more easily cut off the hair. Then, the piranhas sell the hair to local beauty salons, where natural hair can sell for more than $500. The hair goes to extensions, since the demand for them is so high in Venezuela—increasing as much as 30 percent since the first hair-snatching episodes were reported. Police in Venezuela are starting to set up patrols in response to the reports, but they said that they have yet to get any formal complaints. “They did not give me a chance to think or run or anything,” said one woman targeted. “When I looked, I no longer had any hair.”