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Honest Shoppers Mistakenly Break Into N.J. Store, Pay For Goods

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Some shoppers in New Jersey are proving that honesty is the best policy.

As CBS 2's Steve Langford reported Tuesday evening, four students from William Paterson University were caught on surveillance video walking into Buddy's Small Lots on Route 23 in Wayne this past Sunday night.

The store was actually closed when the customers walked in, but the lock malfunctioned, leaving the store open past business hours. The men thought the store was open, officials said.

"The manager did lock the doors, but there was a glitch in our system and the alarm popped the door back open," Marci Lederman, director of operations for Buddy's Small Lots, told 1010 WINS.

Management got a call alerting them of a break-in, but found nothing missing when they arrived.

They then reviewed the surveillance footage which shows the shoppers walking into the store and calling out for a clerk who never appears.

On the surveillance video, the men are seen approaching the checkout counter, searching for assistance, and pulling out cash – making it very clear they are paying for the items they have picked up.

They were also seen "digging in for change, because he tells us later that he was paying the tax," Lederman said.

They ultimately picked up some batteries and sunglasses, put the money on the counter, and left.

Lederman said the owner of the company wants to meet with the shoppers and give them a reward.

"I think that there are still wonderful people in this world that have a sense of honor and dignity," Lederman said. "They were coming in there to shop, they did just that, and they felt that it was the right thing to do to leave the money behind. They didn't take advantage."

Company representatives didn't have far to go to meet the honest foursome, who are on the football team at William Paterson University.

"My heart dropped," said honest shopper Thomas James. "I'm like, 'Are we in trouble?'"

But the fear of false arrest was replaced by widespread praise.

"It's pretty good, because as of now, in the world today, they judge us for the wrong things," James said.

As for the store employee responsible for locking the door at closing time, management declined to comment on whether that person still works at the store.

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