CHICAGO (CBS) — Police say they are surprised by a spike in thefts of human hair in recent months.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, in April, thieves broke into the Beauty One hair supply store, 616 W. Roosevelt Rd., and police say they went straight for the hair extensions.

In all, $80,000 worth of extensions was stolen.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

Chicago Police Detective Vito Ferro says the thieves knew what they were looking for.

“The offenders used a white van. They forcibly entered through the rear,” Ferro said. “They pretty much knew what they wanted because they went straight for the human hair and not the synthetic hair.”

At the time, police called the crime a well-planned heist on the quietest day of the year, Easter Sunday.

Surveillance cameras outside the Beauty One shop showed the suspects using a crowbar and sledgehammer to pry open dead bolts and then loading boxes of hair into a van.

To get their loot to the van, the thieves wheeled in big, empty carts. Five minutes later, they wheeled the carts back out, filled with the store’s more expensive brands of human hair extensions and hair-preparation chemicals.

Law enforcement officials have been surprised by the sudden increase in the thefts of hair. Ferro says he was unaware of the crime before this case.

“This is my first one,” he said.

Store owner Jay Han said he had been burglarized two years earlier, but that time, the thieves only took cash.

Ferro says some of the recent hair thefts in the city appeared to be the work of people sophisticated enough to have taken custom orders. Once stolen, the hair is typically sold on the street or on the Internet.

“They go for something of value, something they can make money off of. They sell it to people who braid hair and stuff. Just like anything of value, they’re going to turn it over and make a profit on it,” he said.

There have been similar thefts in Houston, Texas where $150,000 worth of hair was taken.

Thieves have recently taken $10,000 in hair from a San Diego shop, 480,000 from a business in Missouri City, Texas, $10,000 and $60,000 worth of hair was stolen from a shop in Dearborn, Mich.

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