Two vandals were filmed on surveillance video (below) jumping on cars at the Schulte Subaru dealership in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in October, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. The vandals turned out to be two boys, ages 14 and 10.
"What was going through my mind, is what if this is the moment in the life, especially the older one, where if we press charges and he goes into the system and has a record," Mike Schulte, the dealership owner, told KELOLAND TV. "What if he decides to maybe do some other bad things and it just spirals."
The 10-year-old boy was turned over to his parents, but Schulte met with the teen and his disabled mother.
Schulte said he learned that the 14-year-old boy had not been in trouble with the law before, but he was living with his mom in run-down conditions and walking more than three miles to school and back daily.
"The first thing we did was we bought a bus pass for him and we actually went and got a bike for him, so he wouldn't have to walk to school anymore," Schulte told the news station.
Schulte and his employees found the teen and his mom a better place to live, and Schulte is going to sponsor the teen so he can get some gear to play sports in school.
The teen reciprocated by offering to work at the dealership after school on weekdays and weekends.
"He actually asked ... if he could come down and help us out," Schulte told the Argus Leader.
Some of the teen's pay will go towards the damage to the cars, but Schulte doesn't expect him to pay all of it back. While KELOLAND TV put the estimated damage at $40,000, the Argus Leader put it at $25,000.
"You wouldn't know it's the same kid," Schulte added to the Argus Leader. "You can just see the difference.
" ... This is the moment where the kid looks back and says, 'This is when someone cared about me.'"