Police in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo are hunting a gang of thieves who have been targeting woman to steal their hair.
According to news site Globovision, the robbers, known as “piranhas”, are responsible for a spate of hair robberies in the South American community, believed to have been triggered by the growing demand for human hair extensions.
They are said to hunt for long-haired victims at shopping malls before using often violent means to get the hair.
Many victims have been held by gunpoint and forced to tie their hair into a ponytail in order to cut it off. The hair is later sold to beauty salons to be used for extensions.
Human hair can fetch anything from $500- $800 depending on the length. The extensions are weaved into the hair of men and women.
Mariana Rodriguez said she was caught off guard by two women while she was shopping.
"I thought they were going to steal my cell phone, because I had it in my hand at the time, but they took out scissors," she said.
"They did not give me a chance to think or to run or anything. And when I looked, I no longer had any hair. More than 8 inches gone."
Police are now warning women to avoid wearing their hair down or in a ponytail until the thieves have been apprehended.