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Hair thieves prey on Venezuelan women

[ 2013-09-06 10:27] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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They already endure staggering levels of street crime. Now, Venezuelans have something new to fear - muggers who chop off their hair.

Members of the scissor-wielding street gangs are called "piranhas", after the flesh-eating fish.

The gangs sell the stolen hair to salons that fashion it into braids in this oil-rich and beauty-obsessed country.

Some disconsolate women have given up and had their long hair cut off preemptively to donate to children who lose theirs to cancer.

Vanessa Castillo cried as her long jet-black hair was snipped for charity. "It is better to give it to kids with cancer than have the piranhas steal it," she said, sniffling.

She spoke at a donate-your-hair-to-kids day at a beauty salon.

"Is this what we have come to? For there to be people who steal your hair is a form of chaos," said Castillo, a 26-year-old dental student.

The alarms went off last month in Maracaibo, Venezuela's second largest city, with the first complaints of hair-stealing groups made up of men and women.

Braids sold to salons for use as hair extensions can go for as much as $1,000, depending on how long, thick and healthy the hair is.

Along with Castillo, hundreds of women and some men showed up for the charity event held at a Caracas hair salon. The cutters were led by Ivo Contreras, a well-known stylist who has done Miss Venezuela's hair and makes wigs for children with cancer.

Venezuelans are so upset that the government has gotten involved, but only after media reports of harrowing stories of women in Maracaibo being beaten and robbed of their flowing manes.

President Nicolas Maduro declared war on the piranha gangs and ordered an investigation into "mafias that cut off young women's hair".

The leader blamed the hair thefts on a "psychological war in the whole country" orchestrated by Colombian and Venezuelan opposition figures based in Miami.

Oddly, no one has gone to the police yet to file a formal complaint.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Hair thieves prey on Venezuelan women

About the broadcaster:

Hair thieves prey on Venezuelan women

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.