Brooklyn coffee shop owner forgives robber with public letter

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BAY RIDGE, Brooklyn — After a robber broke into the Cocoa Grinder coffee shop in Bay Ridge, owner Abdul Elenani didn't search through surveillance video from nearby security cameras, nor did he go to the cops.

"I just started writing whatever's in my head," said Elenani. "Like if I would see that guy right now, what would I tell him?"

The result? An e-mail addressed to "The One Who Broke through the Cocoa Grinder" with the subject line "I Forgive You".

Elenani printed an 8-foot-tall version of the letter and and hung it in his store window.

"Arrest him, throw him in jail. What's the percentage of people going in jail, coming back out, committing more crimes and going back in? On a daily basis they're in and out," said Elenani. "There's no solution. The solution is to forgive, show mercy and then we'll see the outcome from there."

The message reads in part: "If the money you stole was to better you and your family's living, then I forgive you. If it was stolen for you to go out there and ruin yourself and health, I still forgive you and ask of you to fix yourself."

Quotes from the Prophet Muhammad follow.

Customers who stopped to read the letter Friday were touched by the sentiment.

"I think that that's a stronger message than giving somebody what he deserves," said customer Stephanie Suarez.

"There's got to be a way for them to accept or undo the desperation so they become viable citizens," said customer Sal Ferrera.

"If everyone does good to their neighbor or if you treat everyone else in a kind manner. I'm telling you this world would be a much better place," said Elenani.

But preaching forgiveness is nothing new for Elenani who's actually had one of the quotes from Muhammad hanging in his store since he opened more than a year ago.

He says this situation just gave him the opportunity to put those words into action. He says if the person who committed this crime returns to the story, he'll continue to practice what he preaches.

"I will honestly give them everything I got in my pocket right now and I will tell them if you need a job right now you're hired. Experience, no experience, you're hired."

After all, through his religion and profession he knows there's no point to being bitter.