Store rewards honest shoppers

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(CNN) — Four honest college football players are getting more than they bargained for after a shopping trip in Wayne, New Jersey.

On Sunday night, Thomas James, Kell’E Gallimore, Jelani Bruce and Anthony Biondi drove from William Paterson University to Buddy’s Small Lots to look for a few items for their dorm rooms. But when they walked inside, no one else was there.

The students thought it was odd that they were the only ones, but they say they had no idea it was supposed to be closed. Bruce told CNN: “At first, we were nervous. We didn’t know what to do. We thought people were there. We didn’t just want to walk out of the store.”

When they paid for their batteries and sunglasses, they even included how much they owed for sales tax. And after leaving the money at a checkout counter, they walked to a Rite-Aid store next door and told an employee what they had done.

Meanwhile, police were being alerted. Marci Lederman of Buddy’s Small Lots told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey: “We got a phone call from the police department saying that there had been a break-in at the store.” Upon arrival, store management said nothing was seen missing. It turns out a security malfunction had unlocked the doors.

Lederman said that since the store is in a basement, some lights are left on after hours. Management took a look at the store’s surveillance video, which showed the four college students doing a little shopping and then walking around the store calling out for a store clerk so they could pay. In the video, two of the student athletes can be seen putting cash on the counter.

James, who’s seen in the video waving to try to catch an employee’s attention, said he didn’t think too much about what happened until his brother called him the next day. “He asked me if I was at Buddy’s, my heart dropped a little bit,” James said. So he asked his brother: “Are we in trouble?”

It turns out that trouble should have been the last thing on the students’ minds. The family-owned store chain wanted to thank the students for their honesty. So the four made another visit to Buddy’s on Tuesday, this time to meet employees and go on a free shopping spree.

The students got memory foam pillows, since their school beds are uncomfortable; backpacks; Beats speakers for their iPhones; and cologne, among other things. The store’s security malfunction has since been fixed.

The four students even earned praise from Jerry Flora, their college football coach, who said they’re “what any coach wants on any team, they represented their families well.”

By Justin Lear

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