Sit Still, I’m Trying to Steal Your Hair

A Jakarta pickpocket tries to steal a woman’s hair to make keyrings:

Hair today, gone tomorrow for victim of mane mugger

The hazards of riding the city’s public buses are many — pickpockets, gropers, drivers who stop in the middle of the road, wandering musicians plunking away on ukuleles in the hopes of annoying a few rupiah out of passengers — but until Monday, commuters might have thought that at least their hair was safe.

Certainly Nuryamah, 35, did — until a thief cut 40 centimeters of her knee-length locks off while she sat aboard a bus going through Senayan.

“It took me six years to grow this,” she cried to police while filing a report.

She said she was on the Blok M-Bekasi bus at around 11 a.m. when she felt a tug on her scalp. She touched her hair and realized it had been cut to her waist.

Nuryamah said she saw a man attempting to leave the bus and called “thief”, attracting the attention of a nearby police officer, who arrested the man and took him to Jakarta Police headquarters.

The suspect, Agus Setiawan, 27, told the police he intended to make keychains from the hair and had done the same thing last year without being caught.

“I can sell hair keychains for Rp 10,000 (almost US$1) each,” he said.

The police detained Agus after questioning him for about three hours. They confiscated his backpack, in which they found the hair.

Agus works as a fried catfish seller at his mother’s stall in Warung Buncit, South Jakarta.

Nuryamah, who was born in Pelabuhan Ratu, West Java, said she was accompanied at the time by her mother, 52-year-old Enah, on her first visit to Jakarta.

“I started to grow my hair in 2001 when I was working as a migrant worker in Palestine,” she said. (JP/08)

What I like about this story are all the questions it raises:

  • What sparked Agus’ entrepreneurial spirit — diversifying from the helping mum sell fried catfish sector to the human hair keychain vending sector?
  • Where did he come up with the idea of a human hair keychain?
  • Who would knowingly buy a human hair keychain?
  • If they didn’t buy it knowingly, what did they think they were buying?
  • Where did he come up with the idea of covertly cutting people’s hair for his supplies?
  • How long was Agus looking for someone with such long hair?
  • And poor old Nuryamah. It’s not clear whether it was her first visit to Jakarta, or her mother’s, but you can’t help wondering what was going through their minds about city dwellers.
  • What did the arresting officer say when she told him her hair had been stolen? “Don’t worry, miss. I hear it grows back”?
  • What exactly did the police put in their report?
  • What did Nuryamah hope to achieve by filing the report? Was she hoping to get her hair back?
  • Is this part of a bigger hair racket? Should we all be on our guard for hair thieves?
  • If her locks really did go down to her knees, how exactly did Agus cut them off?
  • Shouldn’t Agus and Nurmiyah go into business?
  • Most important, where can I buy one of these rings?

The Jakarta Post – Hair today, gone tomorrow for victim of mane mugger

04. September 2007 by jeremy
Categories: Scams | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Gosh, I felt sorry for the girl (it took me 3.5 years growing my hair from chin-length to my mid-back before I decided to donate it to locksoflove.org), but I got a good laugh reading your last two questions.

  2. RAAAAAAAH ! You’re scaring me !

    I’ve been wearing my hair longs since I was 7 years old (i’m a male by the way). A thief would better go with my right ear than trying to cut my hair .

    But now, about ears, are these th next trendy-to-make-a-keychain-out-of thing to come ?

  3. It is amazing to see how “creative” criminals are. And Jakarta has plenty of them. 🙂