The procedure is always the same -- a man walks into a Sally's Beauty Supply store, whips out a trash bag from his pants pocket and demands that a clerk at the counter fill it up.
In the past month, at least five Sally's stores in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties have been robbed by a pair of unarmed beauty bandits who have absconded with more than $3,000 in hairdressing scissors and electric hair clippers.
At least two of the stores -- in Glen Burnie and Bowie -- have been hit three times each since Aug. 5, said Mike Povendo, spokesman for the Denton, Texas-based beauty supply chain. Povendo said the company suspects the same men are behind the robberies, which also have taken place at stores in Laurel, Lanham and Largo.
"People do shoplift the same kinds of items, like sometimes people will steal cigarettes," said Anne Arundel County police spokeswoman Officer Carol Frye. "But this person is coming in, he's threatening the employees and stealing scissors -- that's bizarre. I guess he just decided that he really wants scissors."
Povendo said the clippers and scissors, which are professional hair-dressing tools, are priced between $54.99 and $99.99. He said the beauty supply chain, started in the 1970s, has never experienced such an epidemic of scissors thievery.
"When we have had robberies in our stores, it's always been for money," Povendo said.
He said the men have used the same method at all five stores.
"The first guy comes in and buys a $2.99 or $3.99 product, goes back out and another male comes in, reaches into his trousers, where he's got a garbage bag, threatens the employees and tells them, 'Get the clippers and put them in the bag,' " Povendo said. "No weapon has been seen, but the threat is strong enough to indicate that he means business."
Cpl. Michael Montgomery, spokesman for the Prince George's County police, where the thieves struck three stores a total of eight times last month, said the suspects did not threaten employees until they were confronted.
At the Glen Burnie store in the 6700 block of Ritchie Highway, however, manager Diane Potter said the second man told an employee who was on the phone during an Aug. 10 attack to "get off the phone or he'd kill her."
The Glen Burnie store was again the target on Thursday. During the robbery, the bag-wielding man told employees "he was doing this for his family," Potter said.
Neither Frye nor Montgomery offered motives for the thieves' peculiar booty. But Povendo said he suspects the scissors are being sold at flea markets, estimating that each pair of scissors or set of hair clippers could fetch $30.
Povendo said the company has taken some measures to fight the thefts, such as installing hidden cameras in some of its 34 stores in the Baltimore-Washington area.
"Employees at all the stores have also been instructed not to resist," Povendo said. "We don't want our employees injured, whether it's for $3,000 or $10,000."
Povendo said he also has distributed descriptions of both men to the 34 stores. Anne Arundel County Police released a description of one of the men after last week's robbery. The man who entered the store second is described as black, in his early 30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a husky build and some facial hair, wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt. And very short hair.
Pub Date: 9/01/98