It is not just balding people, who value the worth of hair. Criminals too have begun to eye human hair, which has spawned a flourishing market across the globe.

Little did Mohammed Hussain, who runs a hair processing unit in Bannerghatta road, suspect his employee would disappear with two bags full of human hair, estimated to cost Rs 20 lakh.

Mr. Hussain, who collects hair from barbershops and temples across the State, processes and sends it to an agency in Chennai for export abroad, said the city police.

He had handed two bags containing a total of 35 kg of processed human hair to his employee Rajkumar last Thursday to be delivered in Chennai.

The theft came to light when Hussain got a call from the agency the next day stating that they had not received the consignment yet. Mr. Hussain then called Rajkumar, but his phone was switched off.

“Rajkumar has switched off his mobile and efforts are on to trace his address,” a senior police officer said.

A similar theft occurred earlier this year in January when a South Africa-based businessman complained that a bag containing 40 kg of human hair, estimated at Rs. 20 lakh, was stolen from his house in Sanjay Nagar. The complainant, Mr. Basil, used to purchase hair from brokers and ship it to his country where it was processed to make wigs and artificial hair extensions for women. The police had arrested Aslam, an autorickshaw driver, who used to transport hair for the complainant. Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sandeep Patil said the human hair industry was thriving in Bangalore. Many global manufacturers prefer Indian hair because of its texture, he said.

The human hair collected from temples is considered to be of higher quality than the hair collected from saloons because the cuticles are kept intact in the former that ensures the hair is shiny and soft, he said.

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