For one Tennessee woman, what began as a routine trip to a Victoria’s Secret store earlier this week led to her being handcuffed by a police officer and accused of stealing.
Jovita Jones Cage told WREG, a CBS station out of Memphis, that she visited the store in Collierville to have a censor removed from a bra she’d recently purchased. After leaving the bra and bag at the counter for the employee to handle and browsing through the rest of the store, Jones headed to a fitting room to try on a few new items, only to find a police officer walking toward her.
Apparently, an employee had called the police, and an officer arrived and promptly handcuffed her.
Jones Cage said she was shocked and confused and asked the officer what was happening. He told her “to put both of my hands behind my back, because I was under arrest for shoplifting,” she told WREG.
“He could have asked, ma’am, can I search your bag? He didn’t do any of that. He just came in and [slapped] handcuffs on me. He made up in his mind I was guilty,” Jones said to Memphis’ Fox 13.
The manager called it in without speaking to her, Jones Cage, a Howard University graduate and tutor with no criminal record, told WREG. After the officer searched her bag and found no evidence of shoplifting, he then reportedly escorted her out of the store and told her she was banned.
Jones Cage was left “traumatized and crying,” she said. She believes the store manager targeted her “for the simple fact that I was black.”
Jones Cage reported the incident to Victoria Secret’s corporate office, at which point a representative apologized and offered her a $100 gift card, which she declined, WREG reports.
She also reported what happened to the NAACP. The employee involved in the incident is no longer employed with the company, said Victoria's Secret, which addressed the incident with the following statement:
“We are sincerely sorry for the experience Ms. Jones Cage had in our store. Bottom line, we made a mistake, and we do not tolerate this behavior. Our head of stores has been trying to reach Ms. Jones Cage to personally apologize for her experience. 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.”
[Photo: Victoria's Secret store via Getty Images]