Venezuela hair thefts netting criminals $500 for hair

Criminals are reportedly making $500 each time they steal someone's natural hair. Photo: CNN

Of all things, women letting their hair down in portions of Venezuela is making them a hot target for criminals who want their flowing locks.

Authorities in the coastal city of Maracaibo and other portions of the South American nation have recently noticed an increase in the number of attacks against women, the vast majority of whom have long hair.

Whether at the beach, the mall or anywhere in public, thieves called "piranhas" are grabbing women by the hair, pulling out scissors, cutting it and selling the hair at salons.

"We're not going to be able to have long hair anymore," Maracaibo, Venezuela resident Sarai Madrid told CNN. "As a woman, this is something traumatic."

In Colombia, which neighbors Venezuela, women are becoming targets of hair thieves themselves. By the time Colombia native Arlen Luna realized she was being attacked for her hair, a thief had already chopped eight inches off.

Hair theft has become a lucrative crime for thieves. Hair stylists say that natural hair can fetch them upwards of $500.