In addition to the $150,000 Houston robbery this month, thieves have recently taken $10,000 in hair from a San Diego shop; $85,000 from a business in Missouri City, Tex.; $10,000 from a shop in Dearborn, Mich.; and $60,000 from a business in San Leandro, Calif. All the values were provided by the storeowners.
Law enforcement officials have been perplexed by the sudden increase in the thefts of hair and the violence that has accompanied some. Some agencies say they had been unaware of the trend before, and others are still learning about it.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Denise Ballew, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I., who oversees data related to property crimes.
But with the increased profits has come violence, the police say.
In Dearborn, Mich., Jay Shin, the owner of Sunrise Beauty Supply, was killed during a holdup on March 15 by gunmen who stole 80 packages of hair extensions worth about $10,000. Two young men have been arrested.
Assaults have been reported even when only a small amount of hair is involved. In West Palm Beach, Fla., a 16-year-old girl sprayed a clerk with pepper spray last year as she made off with extensions. And in Lawton, Okla., the police said a customer who ran out of a store with extensions tried to escape with the store owner clinging to the hood of her car.
She said illegal hair was being sold everywhere, including by people who have come to her shop offering it to customers and by people who have tried to sell it to her on the street.
“ ‘Yo, I got some hair,’ ” Ms. Davis said, imitating the come-on.