Prahran music institution Greville Records’ Facebook page reads like a transcript of conversations happening in music stores all around the world every single day. Music fans debate New Order’s best release, gush over early pressings, and boast about rarities in their collections. “Likes” are mostly in the (low) double figures.

When a shoplifter at the store gave himself a five-finger discount on a stack of albums, Greville Records’ owner, Warwick Brown, took to Facebook and offered the young thief a second chance – and gained Greville Records some new social media fans in the process.

“Here is a strange dilemma I have!” read the message posted on June 25. “We have perfect footage of this guy stealing records on a few occasions! The consequences are that it jeopardises a whole heap of his shit in the future!”

Brown offered to let the thief return the records within 24 hours and let bygones be bygones. The next morning Brown posted an update.

“At opening time the young man we had caught on film stealing turned up at our door, with the records he had stolen and cash to [sic]… tearful, regretful and [he] apologised profoundly,” Brown wrote in the follow-up post.

Brown’s final post received more than 1000 reactions and more than 150 comments – a happy ending to a caper that proves a little compassion can make a real difference. The comments section echoes with praise for Brown’s sensitivity, and applauds the offender for owning up to his crime.

“We turned a negative into a positive, which is the result you hope for,” Brown tells Broadsheet.

As a small-business owner surrounded by other small businesses, Brown wanted to respond to the incident, but in a way that incorporated one of his ideals: be the change you want to see.

“I don’t want to be another prick in your life … part of a chain that unravels you,” says Brown. “There isn’t one person who hasn’t done something that’s stupid or wrong.” During our interview Brown puts down the receiver to serve a couple of young customers.

“They’re buying Led Zeppelin records,” he says. “The youth of today are actually alright.”

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