Natural dreadlocks are sold as hair extensions for anything between 200 rand ($22) and 2,500 rand ($204) depending on the length, said The Times.
The extensions are weaved into clients’ own hair. They are worn by both men and women.
Synthetic extensions have been used for years, but the Times report suggests demand for 100% human hair dreadlocks is growing in South Africa.
One hair stylist in downtown Johannesburg John Wushe told the paper that dreadlocks “are becoming very popular. On a busy day we get 10 people (wanting) to extend their hair.”
Globally, the fad for human hair extensions has spawned a multi-million dollar industry, with Indian and Brazilian hair the most popular among women.
Johannesburg police spokesman Captain John Maluleka encouraged victims to open cases of assault. He said: “We have only heard stories — no cases have been reported to us.”
Maluleka said it could be a case of victims being too embarrassed to report the theft of their hair.
Randburg stylist Lebo Masimong said women were the most vulnerable.
“You are an easy target if you walk around the CBD and your hair is loose. They don’t care about your money or fancy phone. They are only after your hair.”