N.J. store rewards honest college 'burglars' who paid

6:50 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
William Paterson University football player Thomas James made sure a security camera captured him paying for items he and three friends bought after hours at a New Jersey store they inadvertently entered because the front-door lock was broken. (Photo: Buddy's Small Lots via News 12 New Jersey)
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The door was open, the lights were on, but nobody was home at a New Jersey store when four college football players went shopping for batteries and a cable for their dormitory speakers Sunday night.

After waiting around in the empty Buddy's Small Lotsstore in Wayne, N.J., with no sign of a cashier, they did what many other might not have done: they paid - tax included - and made sure the store's security camera saw them leave the money before they left for practice.

Turns out the store was actually closed, but the front-door lock had malfunctioned. Their after-hours shopping trip tripped the alarm system, alerting police and a store executive.

"His jaw dropped when he realized these kids did do some shopping but that they paid for everything that they took,'' store manager Marci Lederman told NBC's Today on Wednesday. "I think it's terrific that there are still people out there that have moral character not to do the wrong thing when they easily could."

For their honesty, the William Paterson University students - Thomas James, Kell'E Gallimore, Jelani Bruce and Anthony Biondi - were given $50 worth of store merchandise.

The store video was first aired by News 12 New Jersey as Lederman appealed to the mystery shoppers to come forward.

The players initially thought they were in trouble, even though the store appeared to be open because some lights were on.

"We were scared,'' Bruce said on Today, along with his teammates. "Honestly, we thought it was a Halloween gag or something. We thought someone was going to come out and say, 'Ah, gotcha! Welcome to the store.'''

Because they were running late for practice, Bruce told NJ.com, "we decided to put the money on the counter instead of stealing it, because that's just not right."

James looked at the security camera as he paid to be sure their intention was clear.

Biondi said he and his buddies are "just ecstatic knowing that one good deed blew up nationwide and now everyone's hearing about it.''


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