As if opening a new business at the beginning of a pandemic was not hard enough, hair salon owner Blanche Nhogue has had to deal with multiple thefts.
Noghue opened Keps Beauty Supply and Salon at 5201 54 Ave. in March 2020, just before the first lockdown was ordered by health officials in hopes of stalling the spread of COVID-19. She and other similar businesses have had to shut down twice more since then.
On top of this, Nhogue has had her business broken into twice, last August and October, and shoplifters have targeted her twice — last fall and, most recently, last Tuesday.
“I am devastated,” said Nhogue.
Surveillance video shows the suspect, a woman, stuffing several packages of hair extensions into a shoulder bag. She shoved half a dozen other packages down the front of her pants under her coat.
“I am still mentally affected because the same thing happened to me in November,” said Nhogue. Five or six packages of $300 hair extensions were taken that time.
The latest theft occurred when she turned her back briefly to help other customers. The culprit made off with hair extensions worth $1,200.
Nhogue posted video surveillance images on Facebook in hopes that someone might be able to help identify the culprit.
One person who saw the post identified a possible suspect. Nhogue said the police spoke to her on Monday and said the suspect was known to them and they are trying to find and arrest her.
“I’m hoping for that,” she said.
The theft is just the latest crime that Nhogue has had to contend with.
“I got broken into two times last year,” she said, adding her window was smashed. Two months later, she was hit again.
She was so upset she did not even bother to call police. Her window is still broken but she installed bars inside to keep crooks out. Making it even harder is that she is the only employee so she has had to handle everything herself.
“It’s been really stressful for me.”
Nhogue said she believes the city must do more to improve security for downtown businesses, including moving the homeless shelter elsewhere.
Like most retailers, the pandemic has been a challenge. When she had to close down because of health restrictions she tried to make ends meet by selling online and offering pick-up and delivery service.