Venezuelans now need to worry about their hair.
Women in the city of Maracaibo in Venezuela should be careful when wearing their hair down. According to local news sources, a group known as “piranhas” are now stealing women’s hair — and they prefer it straight.
The robbers will hold women at gunpoint in malls and tell them to tie their hair into a ponytail so that they can then cut it off and sell it to beauty salons as hair extensions, according to Venezuelan digital newspaper Informe 21.
Jhonatan Morales, a hair stylist in Venezuela, told Globovision news that the use of hair extensions has gone up by 30%, but that his salon “doesn’t buy from street vendors because we don’t know where that hair comes from.”
The mayor of Maracaibo, Eveling de Rosales, addressed the issue saying “men and women were being placed to guard and avoid this happening again.”
Venezuela’s soaring crime rates have been an issue in recent years. Caracas, the country’s capital, is the third most violent city in the world, according to a study by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice.
The murder rate in the South American country has soared since Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. In 2012 it was at 73 per 100,000 inhabitants, almost 15 times the U.S. rate, according to the Los Angeles Times.