Bad hair day: Man arrested in theft of imported tresses

April 30, 2006|By JOE PALAZZOLO | JOE PALAZZOLO,SUN REPORTER

People would beg, borrow and steal for locks of long, luxurious hair.

That much is clear from reports of an unusual burglary in North Baltimore.

A thief broke into a Greenmount Avenue salon this month. He grabbed a radio, a VCR and some health care products.

And a box of hair.

Two days later, salon owner Salimata Camara couldn't believe what she saw outside a drugstore. There was a man trying to unload $700 worth of hair imported from China.

"I knew it was my hair," Camara said. "Do you know how much he wanted to sell it for? $25."

Although outraged, she decided to barter with the man.

"No, no. That's far too little," she told him. "I'll give you $200. Just hold on."

Camara said she walked out of earshot and called 911. She told the dispatcher that the man she believed had broken through the back window of her salon days earlier was standing feet away, holding a backpack stuffed with her hair.

She returned to the man, still on the phone with the dispatcher.

"It's my sister," she lied, handing him the phone. "Just give her the address, and she'll come meet us with the money."

The police arrived minutes later, arrested Antonio Hammond, 42, and charged him with theft in excess of $500. He has since been released on bail.

Most of the hair used for extensions and braiding in American salons, including Camara's, is shorn from heads in China and India, and it is expensive. So when a bag of long black locks turns up outside a drugstore in North Baltimore, salon owners take notice.

A good braid job fetches about $180, Camara said. Her staff at N'deba Professional African Braiding go through about $800 in hair each week. With prices for human hair as high as they are, there's a market for people who peddle strands on the cheap.

Camara has since installed an alarm system in her salon. "This isn't going to happen again," she said. "No one is going to take my hair."

joe.palazzolo@baltsun.com

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