Four college students from William Paterson University are being applauded for their honesty after surveillance video caught them paying for items they took at an unattended store.
On a Sunday evening, Jelani Bruce, Anthony Biondi, Thomas James and Kelle Gallimore entered Buddy's Small Lots, a family-owned variety store in Wayne, N.J., to buy some new gadgets for their dorm rooms. After an unsuccessful attempt to locate a clerk, the four college students approached the register, waved the item and their money at the security camera mounted above the counter, and left with a pack of batteries and a cable.
"I wanted to put the money on the counter, just in case there was gonna be any misconception" James, 18, told ABC News. "Once I did that I knew we were good."
Marcy Lederman, Director of Operations at Buddy's Small Lots, said that she first thought the place was ransacked after police notified her that a neighboring business spotted kids entering and exiting the store. But after screening the surveillance tapes, Lederman was surprised to find that the four friends had indeed come in through the front door - left open due to a lock malfunction - but had also paid for everything they took.
"It makes me proud that our young community is so honest and understands the difference between right and wrong" Lederman told ABC News.
Lederman wanted to meet the boys in person and reward them for their good deed. The boys at first thought they were in trouble when really what awaited them was four $50 shopping sprees.
"We thought we did something wrong, but she just wanted to congratulate us for what we did," said Bruce, 21. "I didn't think a little deal like this could blow up so big. We are honest people."
"It shows that everyone is different, and you can't judge a book by its cover," James said.
All four boys play for their university's football team and were attending a summer training camp at the time.