This past November, two Zano Salon locations in the Chicago suburbs were broken into and robbed. The first was at 2:30 a.m.; the second two weeks later at 10:40 p.m. “The police said that they were in and out within 45 seconds to one minute,” says Sheryl Wieczorek, CFO of Zano Salons.

In each incident, the robbers entered through the front door, breaking glass in the bottom area of one of the doors and entering through the hole they created, not immediately setting off a sensor. They headed straight to the front cash drawers and took any large bills inside. They did not take any computers or salon retail products or cause any other damage.

“The cash drawer was unlocked, but if it was locked and the burglers messed around with the computers, the whole system could have been damaged,” says Denise Provenzano, co-founder of Zano Salons and president of Cosmetologists Chicago. “Luckily we had security cameras that caught footage of the robbers.”

According to Wieczorek, about $200 in cash was stolen per salon. But after replacing glass and other damages, the break-in equaled $2,200 in costs for one salon and $1,500 in the other.

These two robberies were part of a string of almost 90 salon burglaries across the Chicagoland area over the past seven months. About 15 of these “smash and grabs” were in Chicago, and the rest were scattered across more than 30 surrounding suburbs.

According to the Northbrook, Illinois, Police Department, most of the incidents occurred during the late evening hours before midnight. The suspects most likely were watching the salon at closing time, and in some cases the burglars’ vehicle waited in the parking lot until the last employee left.

SALON TODAY reached out to Instagram followers to identify other salon owners and employees who have been victims of robberies. The stories, unfortunately, flooded in. Salons being a target for burglars is not just a problem local to Chicago.

 PROTECT YOUR SALON

“I have been robbed before, and it was by clients,” says Alexis Smith, owner of EmbellishU in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. “So how do I trust someone won’t break in? I have a security camera inside and outside. Motion sensors on all windows and stickers letting them know my business is alarmed. It’s a peace of mind for when you go home at night.”

Don’t ignore protecting your business before it is too late. Be proactive and take precautions. Northbrook, Illinois, Police Chief Chuck Wernick offers salon owners the following tips to reduce the risk of robbery:

  • Do not leave any cash in the register/ drawer overnight
  • Leave the register cash drawer open
  • Leave lights on in front of the store and, if possible, over the cash register
  • Check for any suspicious vehicles in the parking lot upon leaving the salon

 “You need to take every precaution you can,” Provenzano says. “But if someone wants to break in, they will find a way. The best thing you can do is invest in a security camera for your salon.” She says that with security footage, social media has been a helpful tool in tracking down culprits.

Also, insurance is a necessary investment for your salon. Peter Young, account manager on property and auto lines at SASSI, recommends contents coverage and inventory coverage for salon owners’ property, and glass-breakage coverage for the store itself. He reiterated how important an alarm system is for theft prevention.

“Your business is like your baby,” Smith says. “You want to protect what you have worked so hard for.”

 CASE, ALMOST, CLOSED

Luckily, in the Chicago string of robberies, one of the culprits has been arrested and charged with five counts of burglary. A second suspect still has not been found at the time this article was written.

 Salon owners and employees offer their own advice and stories on Instagram:

 “Our salon was once robbed by a man in a wheelchair he didn’t get far “—@thomp50n

 “I hired a tactical self-defense instructor to come in and teach my girls how to protect themselves in case of an intrusion. We are instructed how to move around our stations and equipment and how to use our own tools to protect ourselves. He even taught us how to use shears to get away.”—@jakethegreat_88

 “We never leave any stylist alone at the salon and we leave in twos. Whenever I feel nervous about a walk-in, I make sure I slip my shears into my vest—a sharp pair of shears is a great defense”—@hairhutco