The owner of a car dealership in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, decided to adopt a forgiving attitude toward two boys who were caught vandalizing cars on video.
Around 8 p.m. on Oct. 15, a surveillance camera at the Subaru Schulte dealership in Sioux Falls captured two boys jumping on vehicles parked in the dealership's lot, causing an estimated $25,000 in damage to 20 cars, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported at the time.
After the dealership posted a video of the incident online, the boys were identified and their names were turned in to local police, according to another article in the Argus Leader.
After questioning the boys, the police investigator told Mike Schulte, the owner of Subaru Schulte, that the juveniles were only 10 and 14 years old and have never been in trouble with the law before.
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The detective added that the boys showed a lot of remorse for their actions.
"He was very embarrassed and sad that he had done that," Schulte said of the 14-year-old involved in the incident.
After speaking to the boys' parents, Schulte learned that the 14-year-old was living in impoverished conditions with his single mother. He reportedly lacked access to basic necessities and had to walk 3 miles to school and back every day.
Neither of the boys' families had the resources to compensate the dealership for the damage they caused.
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Instead of pressing charges, dealership staff decided to assist the troubled youth.
They helped the 14-year-old boy and his mother obtain better living arrangements, and provided the boy with a bus pass and a bike to get to school.
In return, the teen offered to empty trash cans and perform other chores at the dealership on nights and weekends.
"He actually asked … if he could come down and help us out," Schulte told the Argus Leader.
He added that the dealership plans to continue providing assistance to the boy until he graduates from high school.
"This is the moment when the kid looks back and says, 'This is when someone cared about me,'" Schulte said.
About 67,900 juveniles were arrested for vandalism in the U.S. in 2011, according to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.