Why A Georgia Restaurant Owner Offered His Burglar A Job Instead Of Having Him Arrested

Photo: Diablo's Southwest Grill
The front door of Diablo's Southwest Grill and the suspect leaving with the cash register.

After having his restaurant broken into in the middle of the night, one restaurant owner in Georgia took the high road, offering the burglar a job instead of pressing charges. 

Carl Wallace, who has been the owner of Diablo's Southwest Grill for eight years, took to social media to address the burglary, writing, "To the would be robber who is clearly struggling with life decisions or having money issues... please swing by for a job application. There are better opportunities out there than this path you’ve chosen."

COVID-19 has made life difficult for too many, and the act of this restaurant owner could potentially change the life of someone who is clearly dealing with challenges of his own.

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Why did the restaurant owner offer the burglar a job?

On Saturday, April 10, Wallace’s restaurant in Augusta, Georgia was broken into at 4 a.m. The suspect broke the glass front door and stole the cash register within 45 seconds of the alarm going off.

According to nearby restaurant owners, the suspect may also have been connected to at least two other burglaries at nearby businesses. The surveillance footage from previous incidents appears to match that of Wallace’s burglary.

Wallace told CNN that his initial reaction after hearing about the break in was “anger” and “frustration,” but that soon turned into empathy. He couldn't help but feel bad for the suspect.

Wallace decided to post on Facebook to address the break-in and sent a message directed to the suspect himself.

“There are better opportunities out there than this path you’ve chosen. My personal cell is [redacted]. No police, no questions. Let’s sit down and talk about how we could help you and fix the road you’re on,” Wallace wrote.

The unusual response got the attention of thousands of people on social media.

The post on Facebook currently has 4,600 likes and 5000 shares with 735 comments. The comment section is filled with positive messages from people all over the area congratulating Wallace on his noble endeavor.

“I have always eaten at the Diablo’s in North Augusta (closest to me) but I will make it my business to eat at your location starting today for such a gracious, merciful and classy response! Continue letting God lead and guide you,” one customer commented.

The burglary took place on Easter weekend, which Wallace said influenced his act of forgiveness. He felt it was “the right thing to do.”

"You feel sorry that this is their chosen path in life. You also think about the dangers that this person is putting themself [sic] in every single time they do this,” Wallace said.

Our burritos are such a smash hit we’ve got people breaking in at 4am for their fix. So if ya see our door looking...

Posted by Diablo's Southwest Grill on Saturday, April 3, 2021

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Are more businesses being robbed during the pandemic?

Difficult challenges have been brought on by the pandemic across the world and all sorts of people are being affected.

Unemployment rates during the pandemic have been at an all-time high and many people are living paycheck to paycheck. According to Statista, there are 9.7 million unemployed people in the United States. That number was at 23.08 just one year ago during the start of the pandemic, but today's numbers are still high.

Small businesses and local restaurants have had to lay off employees and contend with a big drop in customers. While there was an immediate drop in crime after the United States first locked down in 2020, crime rates began to rise later in the year, and according to one report, rates have been skyrocketing in the first few months of 2021. 

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Break-ins, in particular, seem to have increased in some cities. For example, the Texas county that includes Houston has increased as much as 19% in commercial burglaries, according to The New York Times

The reasons why crime rates increase are always complicated, and the pandemic certainly adds to that, but there's no doubt times are tough.

Wallace and Diablo's Southwest Grill are a rare example of someone looking past a mistake and deciding to give someone in need a second chance.

Wallace, like many, recognizes the challenges that people are dealing with. But not every burglar is lucky enough to run into Wallace. 

With so many desperate people, will Wallace's actions be copied?

The lesson here for restaurants and any local business owner is to make stores are safe and secure against possible thieves as the chances of being robbed or burgled are higher than before the pandemic began.

Wallace and his business have gotten loads of attention thanks to his social media post. Only time will tell if the suspect will reach out and take his offer.

Let’s hope there are more people out there like Wallace who can provide a helping hand in times as tough as these.

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Tomás Diniz Santos is a writer living in Orlando, Florida. He covers news, entertainment, and pop-culture topics