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New Delhi robbers escape with valuable commodity: Hair

August 2, 2018
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FILE- In this Aug. 8, 2015 file photo, devotees of Hindu god Muruga get the head of their child shaved as part of rituals at a temple in Bangalore, India. Indian police say three men posing as customers robbed a small New Delhi workshop and fled with a valuable commodity: Hair. Lots of hair. Hair is big business in India, estimated to bring in more than $300 million a year, with wigs and hair extensions exported around the world. Much of the hair is collected at Hindu temples in South India where devotees have their heads shaved as a form of religious sacrifice. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Posing as customers, the three men entered a little New Delhi workshop early one morning. Then one pulled out a gun, and the trio demanded the most valuable thing there: Hair.

They fled a half-hour later with 200 kilograms (500 pounds) of wigs and raw hair worth more than $20,000, police said Thursday.

They left behind a wig-maker deep in debt.

“People think wigs are cheap but they cost a fortune to make,” Jahangir Hussain told The Indian Express newspaper after the robbery last Friday. He said he had borrowed more than $17,000 to buy hair last month from South Indian wholesalers.

“We breathe life into dead hair,” said Hussain, who proudly says his wigs can last a decade if they are cared for properly.

Hair is big business in India, estimated to bring in more than $300 million a year, with wigs and hair extensions exported around the world. Much of the hair is collected at Hindu temples in South India where devotees have their heads shaved as a form of religious sacrifice. The best-known temple for tonsuring, as the practice is known, in the town of Tirupati, collects hundreds of tons of hair every year, auctioning it off for millions of dollars.

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