The owner of a used-vehicle store in Georgia decided he would rather pay up to $19,000 in damages than have the thieves who stole a Mercedes-Benz from his lot prosecuted.
That's because the thieves turned out to be three girls — ages 12, 13 and 14 — and he wants to give them a second chance just as a teacher did when he was a troubled youth.
"Yes, they were completely in the wrong," Matthew Collins of Click It Automotive told TV station WGXA in Macon. "But just throwing them in a detention center at that age, I feel that ... maybe there's a way to change them."
Collins and his staff came in one morning this month to find that a Mercedes E350 delivered overnight was missing and two vehicles parked to block the driveway were damaged. Surveillance video showed that the E350's keys had mistakenly been left in the cupholder instead of the after-hours drop box.
The cameras captured the teens pulling door handles on every vehicle until they found the Mercedes unlocked. They used it to ram the vehicles blocking the exit and get away.
But after police took the girls into custody, Collins went to court to say he didn't want to press charges. He has to pay the repair cost out of pocket so the store's insurance carrier doesn't get involved and demand prosecution.
Collins said that he was headed in the wrong direction in life until one of his teachers helped him out. "He ... showed me a trade and I learned a lot of respect from that."