WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The four William Paterson University students who unwittingly went shopping in a closed store and then left money to pay for what they took said they hope their actions encourage others to be honest.

Even when they realized there was no one working at the Buddy’s Small Lots on Route 23 in Wayne this past Sunday night, Thomas James says they never considered not paying.

“I don’t think none of us in this room was raised like that,” Thomas James told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “My dad, he’s my role model, he’s my hero. I look up to him, I try to be as strong a man as he is.”

James, Kell’E Gallimore, Jelani Bruce and Anthony Biondi are all freshmen on the William Paterson football team and only recently met each other.

“It honestly makes me feel really good that I know that I did the right thing at the right time even when nobody sees it,” Bruce said.

Three of the players are black and one is white. The players wonder if their actions may change the way they’re viewed based on outward appearances.

“I mean, us dreadheads look better than what we are perceived to be,” said Gallimore. “Even if the camera wasn’t there, I would’ve left the money.”

“This is a great feeling knowing we did such a good deed and now everyone knows about it,” Biondi told Haskell.

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.

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,” Marci Lederman, director of operations for Buddy’s Small Lots, told 1010 WINS on Tuesday.

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

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