12:45 GMT16 January 2021
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    Tennessee resident Jovita Jones-Cage got a shock Monday when she was placed in handcuffs and accused of shoplifting after returning to her local Victoria's Secret store to ask them to remove the security device from a bra she'd bought.

    According to Jones-Cage, since an employee had forgotten to remove the security sensor, she returned to the store with her proof of purchase, the receipt. Once the tag was removed, Jones-Cage decided to let the employee hold on to the bra as she was going to shop some more.

    "I told her she could keep the bag there, because I was going to go shopping around the store," Jones-Cage explained to local station WREG. Moments later, things went downhill as an officer from the Collierville Police Department approached her while she was heading to the dressing room to try on some outfits.

    "The police officer walked straight up to me and slapped handcuffs on me," Jones-Cage said, stressing that she was shocked and confused by the cop's actions. The officer later instructed her to "put both of my hands behind my back, because I was under arrest for shoplifting."

    Speaking to Memphis-based station Fox 13, the frustrated shopper explained that the unnamed officer failed to ask her any questions before making the decision to put her in cuffs.

    "He could have asked, ‘Ma'am, can I search your bag?' He didn't do any of that," she said. "He just came in and [slapped] handcuffs on me. He made up in his mind I was guilty."

    As it turns out, the officer was called in by the store's manager, who suspected Jones-Cage of shoplifting. The manager, Jones-Cage believes, avoided speaking to her before calling law enforcement "for the simple fact that I was black."

    Though no purloined panties were found in her bags, nor anything else to suggest the accusations were true, the officer escorted her out of the store and informed her that she was banned.

    Sitting outside the mall, Jones-Cage was reduced to tears. She later filed a complaint with the corporate office, which in turn offered her an apology and a $100 gift card.

    "I told her a $100 gift card is not going to take back the discrimination, humiliation, defamation that I faced that day," she told the station.

    In response to the incident, Victoria's Secret put out a statement saying they were "sincerely sorry for the experience."

    "Bottom line, we made a mistake, and we do not tolerate this behavior," the company said. "Victoria's Secret is adamant that all customers be treated with dignity and respect. We have investigated the matter, and the associate involved is no longer employed with our brand. In addition, we are meeting with every associate in the store to reinforce our values and policies."

    "We are committed to delivering an excellent shopping experience to every customer, every time… we have work to do — and we are dedicated to this mission," the statement said.

    Jones-Cage wants more than an apology, however.

    "They're going to have to do more. I want justice not only for me, but for people everywhere. I hope after this, other victims of racial profiling will come forward," she told WREG. "It's solidarity. It's not just about African-Americans. It's about everyone being treated fairly."

    Jones-Cage has filed a complaint with her local NAACP chapter regarding her experience with the police officer and store.


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    shoplifting, false accusations, Tennessee
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