Four College Freshman Put New Face on Integrity at Unlocked Store


Four young men are getting kudos this week for their integrity in the face of what, to some, would be major temptation.

On Aug. 25, police alerted the manager of Buddy’s Small Lots in Wayne, N.J., that there had been a break-in at the store. Video surveillance showed four young men entering the store, and then leaving with several items in hand. The store’s vice president rushed over to the scene, expecting a disaster, but was met by a minor miracle: the young men had left the money owed for the items, tax included, at the register.

“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 Show.”

“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.”

Thomas James, Anthony Biondi, Kell’e Gallimore and Jelani Bruce, freshmen football players at William Paterson University, entered Buddy’s Small Lots, thinking it was open. They waited for a clerk to appear, but he or she never appeared since the store was, in fact, closed for the day.

The lights were on in the store because of a glitch in the lighting system, and the door lock was broken, store managers told NBC.

“We were scared,’’ Bruce said to “TODAY” hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Tamron Hall on Aug. 28. “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.’’’

When no one appeared, the men helped themselves to a $4 pack of batteries and a $1 audio cable for dorm speakers and laid the payment on the counter, before hurrying off to another preseason practice session.

“We had to get back to practice, so they just showed the money to the cameras, put it down and we just left,’’ Biondi told “TODAY.”

The “honest Abes” were rewarded with $50 of free merchandise by the store’s managers. And the news about their actions have gone national.

“My dad keeps calling saying, ‘Oh my God, you really did that?’’’ Bruce said.

“Soon as I went on my laptop, it was like right there, front page, and I was just excited,’’ Gallimore said. “I was like smiling because I was like, ‘Oh I'm famous.’’’

Added Biondi, “(We’re) just ecstatic knowing that one good deed blew up nationwide and now everyone’s hearing about it.”

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Four College Freshman Put New Face on Integrity at Unlocked Store

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