Black Teens Followed, Locked Inside Virginia Beauty Supply Store After Being Mistaken for Shoplifters

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A Virginia father is speaking out after he says his daughter was among a group of teens wrongfully detained by a store manager after being accused of a crime they didn’t commit.

“My daughter and her friends won’t ever forget about that, so I just think that’s wrong,” Reubin Houston told Portsmouth station WAVY-TV, calling the incident a glaring case of racial profiling.

Teens Locked in Beauty Supply
A photo of the original suspected crooks was distributed to surrounding businesses. (Photo: WAVY-TV screenshot)

The drama unfolded on Jan. 3 when Houston’s daughter and three of her friends were detained in a Chesapeake. Virginia, beauty supply store after a manager mistook them for thieves. The Coco Beauty Supply had been hit the previous week by a group of girls who stole more than $1,000 in merchandise.

Surveillance photos of the suspects were printed and passed out to surrounding businesses in hopes of tracking them down.

Houston said his 16-year-old daughter was eating at a nearby Subway with friends when they noticed they were being tailed by a security guard. They stopped into the beauty supply a few storefronts down, where a manager would ultimately lock them inside. 

“My daughter asked them, ‘Why? why can’t we leave?’” Houston said about the teens’ interaction with the manager. “She says, ‘You’ll find out.'”  

Apparently, a Subway employee alerted security after concluding one of the girls in the restaurant was from the group pictured on the flyer.

“Served the girls then security brought us a picture of the suspects, noticed one was sitting eating and alerted security and dialed 911,” according to a statement from the employee obtained by WAVY-TV.

Chesapeake police were called to the store to investigate and determined none of the girls were involved in the December robbery. They all were eventually let go, but Houston said the incident still doesn’t sit well with him.

“I’m personally thinking everybody is going to be a suspect if you have braids and weave and you’re black,” he said. “I mean, even the kids are suspects now. I guess mine was.”

A police spokesperson said the teens shouldn’t have been detained, although Virginia law allows loss prevention officers to hold a person for up to an hour if they have probable cause to believe they were stealing. According to WAVY, authorities are now consulting with the city commonwealth’s attorney to see how to proceed, including the possibility of abduction charges.

The beauty supply manager has since apologized, saying she only locked the teens inside because security told her to. The security guard denies this.

Watch more in the video below.

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