BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Rev. Darius Pridgen was at home Saturday night when he got an all too familiar call: There was another break-in at True Bethel Baptist.
“Set off the alarms, and of course this location is very well protected by cameras and alarms,” he said.
The thieves broke a window and crept inside, not realizing — or not caring — they were being watched the entire time.
“Immediately when the alarms went off, our personnel began to watch the building remotely, and we could see the two young men walking through the building and walking through the hallways and trying doors,” Pridgen said.
The video the building’s various cameras captured hasn’t been released, to the media or to the police.
But Pridgen says the video shows clearly who the burglars are.
“Now, I’m not faking when I say we have very good video of the faces,” he said.
Pridgen posted his message on Facebook, and it took off.
“Within minutes, this post had more shares of any post that I remember posting in the lifetime of me being on Facebook,” he said laughing.
As of late Tuesday, the post had been shared more than 730 times.
But rather than hand over the evidence to police to make the arrest, he’s decided to give the teens a chance.
“I do believe there’s a place for justice, but I think in this situation, I’d really like to be able to help these two young men,” he said.
The burglars have until Wednesday evening to turn themselves in.
“This is not my first rodeo with people breaking in, almost every person who has every broken into this building over the last 10 years has either been caught or turned themselves in,” he said. “They’re young enough that if they turn themselves in, they’ll be forgiven.
“But they will have to work to repay for the damage, right here, on the premises, at minimum wage,” he added.
Anyone who knows Pridgen, knows the longtime pastor doesn’t bluff.
“I think if by Wednesday night, if they have not turned themselves in, it will not take very long to bring them to justice,” he said. “I mean what I say. And when I say it, I’m going to do it.”
The vast majority of people who have commented on Pridgen’s Saturday post are supportive, saying he’s making the right move by giving these boys a chance.
Now it’s up to them to return the favor.