By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Dollar Thrift co-owner Melissa Jones said when her husband Thomas opened up the back gate near their store he saw something he couldn’t believe.

“They used the bathroom back there, took their own feces and rubbed it on the wall and put the n-word on the wall,” Thomas Jones said.

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“I cried. I cried for my husband and my children. I cried for all the hard work that we put into the store,” Melissa Jones said.

Melissa believes this vile smeared message was done by a homeless person who has something against them.

“We just find needles. We find feces. We clean up after them, vomit. We’ve cleaned up several things. This is the first time that it’s been a direct insult to us,” Melissa Jones said.

The Joneses told CBS13 that they feel this is a hate crime.

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“With my husband being African American and my children being African American, I know 100 percent that this is a hate crime,” Melissa Jones said.

CBS13 asked the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office if the incident is being looked at as a hate crime. Sergeant Tess Deterding said it’s still too early to tell with this case.

Deterding said there’s a lot of criteria that go into determining if a crime is a hate crime. Investigators have to see the crime fits the penal code of a hate crime. It would have to be defacing or discriminating against a specific group of people or protected individuals based on things like race or religion.

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Melissa Jones told CBS13 they’re frustrated that issues with the homelessness continue…and want something done about it.

“So if you give them the tools that they need to take these people and force them into rehabilitation, force them into doing something else, we would have tools in our toolbox to be able to help these people and at least give us some protection,” Thomas Jones said.

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Detectives will also have to gauge through evidence and witness statements the scope of the incident to determine if this is an isolated incident that could be a hate crime or something larger.