There’s nothing quite like a trip to the salon. A stylist takes the time to hear exactly how you want your hair to look. You get a shampoo and a head massage. Then your stylist meticulously clips your hair so that it falls just so. Finally, a blow-dry polishes it off. And afterwards you’ll be stealing glances in any reflective surface you can because your cut is simply that good. If you’ve ever considered skipping out before paying, though, this story will make you think twice.
Indeed, anyone who has had his or her hair cut in a high-end salon knows that it most certainly has a price. Indeed, something as straightforward as a haircut and blow-dry can cost upwards of $100, depending on where you live and the level of experience your stylist has.
Nonetheless, there’s an ingrained level of trust between stylist and client. You get a good haircut in return for paying a hefty fee and leaving a nice tip on the side, too. Well, that must have been what hairstylist Samantha Richards expected on a seemingly normal day in February 2015. However, it ended with a client completely betraying that trust and walking out on her $900 tab. Little did that client apparently know, though, that her actions were caught on camera.
So, cameras were rolling as Richards listened sympathetically when the frantic client came into the Burbank, California, salon where she was working. The woman, supposedly named Ashley, claimed that she had her engagement photo shoot within the following 24 hours and so needed a beauty treatment – right away.
“She just felt awful, and she wanted to feel good for her pictures,” Richards subsequently told CBS Los Angeles. Fortunately, the woman had an appointment at the salon – or at least, that’s what she told Richards.
It turned out, though, that the woman calling herself Ashley did not, in fact, have a session booked. Nonetheless, the desperation with which the woman made her case to Richards proved persuasive. As a result, the stylist squeezed the new client into her schedule.
The woman then settled into the salon chair for an incredible six-hour marathon treatment. Indeed, the list of lavish services that she received would constitute a dream session for anyone with visions of making their hair longer or more voluminous.
Firstly, the soon-to-be-photographed client asked Richards to remove her existing hair extensions and color her natural locks. She then wanted new extensions added before the stylist brushed in a bit more color – to ensure that strands both natural and new blended seamlessly.
After the woman had sat in the salon chair for three quarters of an average working day, her hair looked picture perfect. And as Richards is a highly skilled working professional, she was naturally charging the client for services rendered. In fact, the woman’s tab tallied up to a cool $900.
However, before Richards could receive her payment, “Ashley” left the salon. “When it [was] time to check out, she just walked right out the door,” a flabbergasted Richards told CBS Los Angeles.
Indeed, security cameras outside of the building caught the woman walking straight from the salon to a white SUV, which had had its license plates removed to prevent it from being identified. The lady subsequently hopped inside and drove away without paying for the hard work that Richards had put into her new hairstyle.
The stylist said that the woman’s actions made her feel abused for her time and talents. “It really can be a violation of your artistry and your creative integrity,” she said after the incident.
Consequently, the salon’s owner, Michael Villalobos, took to television to laud Richards’ hard work on the tedious extensions and coloring job. He also reiterated just how much his employee deserved to be paid for services rendered. “She got ripped off,” he told CBS Los Angeles.
The clip aired on local news just after the incident took place and featured security footage showing the woman walking into the salon, sitting down for her treatment and then rushing out when it was time to pay the bill.
Having the lady’s face on screen did more than just tell the story of what happened that day in Burbank, though; it also helped investigators to find her. The following month, a 28-year-old woman was arrested for the crime. However, her name wasn’t Ashley.
Lavette Walter was her real name. Police had discovered her true identity after someone had recognized her in the surveillance camera footage. What’s more, Walter had an extensive history of thefts, so the crime at the salon was far from her first.
Police subsequently learned that Walter had even committed a similar salon scam before in Burbank. In January 2015 she’d gone to another salon and received $335 worth of services, none of which she paid for. On that occasion, though, she’d left her old iPhone with the receptionist as a supposed indication of her trustworthiness and claimed that she was going to withdraw cash to pay for the treatment. However, she never returned.
Still, after ditching another hairstyling bill in Burbank, Walter wouldn’t maintain her glamorous lifestyle for much longer. Instead, area detectives found the suspect in her car close to Sherman Way and State Route 170.
Police were able to confirm Walter’s identity and swiftly make an arrest thanks to the concerned citizen who provided them with the tip-off about the woman’s real identity. Walter was arrested on suspicion of burglary for walking out on her bills and was set bail of $20,000 – and Richards must have looked upon this development with a degree of satisfaction.
Richards continues to work as a stylist, as she has for a dozen years, despite that bump in the road in 2015. She now splits her time between California and Minnesota, her home state. As for Walter, one can only hope that she learned her lesson – and has begun to pay for any beauty services rendered, especially when they cost close to $1,000 a pop.