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article imageSouth African hair thieves targeting dreadlocks

By Layne Weiss     Feb 27, 2013 in Odd News
Johannesburg - Jack Maseko, a 28-year-old man from Zimbabwe was recently mugged by three men in South Africa, wanting nothing but his cell phone and his dreadlocks.
"They had a knife and cut off my hair with scissors. I still feel pain when I think about that night," he told BBC News.
"I used to see people selling dreadlocks on the streets and didn't know where it came from," Maseko added, still trying to figure everything out. It took him three years to cultivate his own dreadlocks.
The thieves are quick and will use anything from a knife to broken glass to steal dreadlocks from a person's head. This is known as a "cut and run."
Just last month, Mutsa Madonko, another Zimbabwean national was in Johannesburg visiting a friend. The two were partying at a nightclub when Madonko was taken outside, attacked, and like Jack Maseko, his hair was stolen. Mr. Madonko had reportedly been growing his locks out for ten years.
Stylist Andie Khumalo, who styles Jack Maseko's hair tells BBC News over the past six months he's heard of four other cases "apart from what's happened to Jack." He's scared he could be the next victim.
"I'm even afraid of walking through town with my locks loose especially at night especially at night. I make sure I cover my head. It is scary because you never know what they will use to cut your hair these people are ruthless," Khumalo says.
It is not clear where dreadlock theft started, but stealing hair is a popular practice elsewhere.
In 2011, burglars were caught on camera stealing $50,000 of human hair from a Los Angeles beauty shop called Superstar Hair and Wigs.The hair was originally taken from from Brazil, India, and Malaysia.
And just last year, thieves around Wyoming stole horse hair in Fremont, Natrona, Sweetwater, and Natrona Counties.
The Natrona County horse hair thefts just started up again earlier this week, Wyoming's Star Tribune reports.
Back in South Africa, for now, Mr. Maseko is afraid to grow back his dreadlocks. "My friends have warned me not to grow them. Next time they might kill me," he says.
At the time of the burglary in Los Angeles, Richard Ormeida, owner of Super Hair and Wigs, said "There is a huge market for stolen hair and wigs."
In places where people are willing to get violent for hair, it is difficult, but smart for people like Jack Maseko and victims of "cut and runs" to do what they can to keep safe.
More about hair thieves, South Africa, dreadlocks, horse hair, Wyoming
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