As crime and retail theft increase throughout California, more shops are closing while others are fleeing the state.
For one California entrepreneur, the state’s wave of increased theft in recent years was almost enough for her to forgo her dream of helping cancer patients rediscover their beauty and confidence through wigs sold at her now-closed beauty stores.
Evette Ingram, owner of Evette’s Beauty Supply, shut down her two beauty stores in Los Angeles County after not only losing profits from retail theft but also for fearing her personal safety.
“You used to see teenagers shoplifting. And now I see people from all walks of life shoplifting. People from all walks of life are breaking into my stores, from young to old. It definitely became more brazen,” she said in a recent episode of EpochTV’s “California Insider.”
She said her love for selling wigs ignited after first opening a small boutique in Sherman Oaks California, where her first customer was a woman undergoing chemotherapy who was losing a lot of hair.
“As she sat in my chair her hair was literally falling out, and she cried. We talked for maybe an hour and once I put this wig on her head, everything about her changed,” Ingram said.
With the help of the wig, she said she remembers her customer feeling confident she could conquer her chemo and attend her high school reunion feeling beautiful.
“At that moment, my love for wigs developed into a passion … especially to help those that are experiencing medical hair loss,” Ingram said.
But her dream was short-lived after multiple break-ins, and even being held at knifepoint, she said.
“Recently with all of the thefts and the burglaries and shoplifting, my passion has been stolen. I’ve had so many break-ins. I’ve had customers pull knives on me at my store,” she said.
The thefts, she believes, are a sign that leaders in the state need to rewrite laws, such as Prop. 47, which was passed by voters in 2014. The proposition turned non-violent property crimes such as retail theft under $950 into misdemeanors and lessened some drug offenses.
“Rethink these laws because people think that ‘oh if it’s under $1,000 it’s not going to be a felony. I’m not going to go to jail.’ … If these criminals know that there are going to be some serious repercussions because of [their] actions I’m quite sure they will stop to think before they commit the crime,” she said.
When her first store opened in 2016, she said, there was only the occasional theft. But after the pandemic started and her business remained open as an essential service, the thefts skyrocketed.
“At the beginning of the pandemic three young men came into my Pasadena store and ran out the door with four high-end wigs, and from there it just went on and on from 2020 to 2023,” she said.
Since then, she said, she has had 12 break-ins during late night hours when the store is closed, and numerous times when the store has been opened, thieves have entered with large bags, loading them up and running out the door.
In total, she said, she has lost over $150,000 in stolen merchandise.