Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
Clayton County joined a nationwide trend Thursday morning, reporting what is believed to be its first theft of expensive hair extensions, in a smash-and-grab burglary at a Riverdale Road beauty supply shop.
Don Kang of Beauty Emporium, north of Riverdale in the shadow of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said five masked men wearing gloves rammed a car through the front glass about 3:15 a.m., causing about $5,000 in damage. Within minutes, they loaded up boxes of hair extensions worth $10,000-$15,000, he said.
"They didn't even touch the cash register," said Kang. "They knew exactly what they were looking for."
The shop's sophisticated surveillance system captured the entire heist.
"They were apparently after Remy Indian, Black Diamond hair," said Clayton County police Sgt. Otis Willis. "I believe this is the first theft of its kind in the county."
Kang said that recently he reinforced the back door after thieves tried several times to get inside the shop that way.
"I bolted the back door real good after they tried to break in about a month and a half ago," he said. "So they just rammed the front door."
Internet searches show scattered news items from across the country reporting similar thefts of expensive hair extensions. A Michigan clerk was killed during a hair holdup in March, and a Florida sales associate was sprayed with pepper spray during a theft of extensions by a teenage girl.
The Clayton County shop shares a shopping center with a grocery store, pawn shop, restaurants and a cell phone store. As workmen repaired the frame and replaced glass Thursday afternoon, grocery shopper Diann Lewis pushed a buggy of food to her car. Lewis used to live nearby but moved to Ellenwood about 11 years ago.
"We didn't have those kinds of problems back then but I guess as time goes on, it gets worse and worse. The economy is down, people can't find jobs and some people are trying to make ends meet. I think some people figure the shops have insurance," she said.
Lewis shopped for ingredients for peach cobbler and banana pudding to take to a neighbor who suffered a death in the family. She said it is a shame that criminals seem to go out of their way to make life harder for everyone else.
"People want certain stores and shops in their neighborhoods, but when they start getting robbed, the owners move to where they feel safe," said Lewis. "Then the neighborhoods lose out."
Willis said detectives are working the case but he was unsure of any strong leads. Kang said he is disgusted with the rise in crime.
"Tell Clayton County cops to do their jobs," he said. "They need to patrol over here more at night."
Willis said the police department is addressing concerns the community has about safety in that area.