Four William Paterson University football players made sure a security camera captured them paying for items at a New Jersey store they inadvertently entered after hours Sunday evening because the front-door lock malfunctioned.(Photo: Buddy's Small Lots via News 12 New Jersey)
Michael Winter, USA TODAY
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 evening.
After waiting around in the empty Buddy's Small Lots store in Wayne, N.J., with no sign of a cashier, they did what many others 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 store gift cards.
The security 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 and it was only 7 p.m.
"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.''