Police searching for 'beauty bandits' responsible for more than 80 salon burglaries

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Police say surveillance video has captured several young men targeting hair and nail salons in Northbrook and Highland Park. (WLS)

Investigators from 32 law enforcement agencies are on the hunt for suspects in more than 80 burglaries targeting beauty and nail salons in the suburbs and in Chicago.

Police say surveillance video has captured several young men targeting hair and nail salons in Northbrook and Highland Park. The Northbrook Police Chief has connected the men on those tapes to several additional salon burglaries in his community.

"They may be watching the establishments when they close, when they lock up," says Chief Charles Wernick.

Surveillance video shows a burglar peering through a window to ensure a salon is empty before shattering glass near the front door and climbing inside, moving a chair that is in his way.

With a flashlight in hand, the man rummages through a cash register at the Jeffrey LaMorte Salon and Day Spa in Frankfort, and then again last week at the salon's location in Lemont.

"He didn't get much, and he was gone in four minutes," says salon owner Jeffrey LaMorte. "Just boom, right in, rifled through everything, kind of a little bit of a process, and out."

Since August 2015, investigators say thieves have struck 70 times at hair and nail salons in the suburbs and 16 times in Chicago. Now, 32 law enforcement agencies are working together to track down the beauty bandits.

"I was shocked to hear it was that big," LaMorte says.

Police say each case involves a pair of thieves, one of whom waits in the car while the other enters the salon.

"From the video we see two offenders. One remains in the car, one breaks out the door glass of the business, go in and take cash and some cases some jewelry," says Chief Wernick.

Police describe the suspects as two men who appear to be in their late teens or early 20s, driving a dark, midsize four-door sedan.

The men are bold, striking some salons multiple times. CK Salons in Grayslake was hit in January, but the thieves left empty handed.

"It is not like we have a lot of cash. Most people today pay with credit and debit cards. So I don't know why they are going to be so successful achieving a monetary gain by breaking in a hair salon," says Chris Klem, owner of CK Salons.

There is concern from some salon owners that these crimes might start happening during the work day if these men aren't caught soon.

"I have some employee concerns that robberies going while we are working will be a lot scarier than have something happen in the middle of the night when someone's here," Klem says.

Police are asking salons to focus on security and be sure not to leave cash in their businesses overnight. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information about the two men.
Related Topics:
newsburglaryinvestigationNorthbrookHighland ParkCook County
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