Jack Maseko was recently mugged by three men in South Africa – they wanted nothing but his mobile phone and the dreadlocks he had spent three years patiently cultivating.
“They had a knife and cut off my hair with scissors. I still feel pain when I think about that night,” the 28-year-old Zimbabwean tells the BBC.
“I used to see people selling dreadlocks on the streets and didn’t know where it came from,” he adds, still battling to believe what happened to him as he was walking home late at night in Johannesburg.
Dreadlocks can take several years to grow but many people do not want to wait and it is this need for instant long hair that is pushing the demand for ready locks in the black market, according to hairstylists.
The thieves are quick and sometimes ruthless and will use anything from a knife to broken glass to steal the prized hair – known on the streets as a cut and run.
Joe: “I didn’t go to the police because I didn’t think they could do anything about it”
The gangs operate in Johannesburg but the practice has also spread to the coastal town of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Shoulder-length dreadlocks are sold for between 200 rand ($23; £15) and 700 rand, while longer ones cost as much as 2,000 rand.
So what happens to the stolen hair?
Read the full article for South African Hair Thieves Targeting Dreadlocks on BBC.