HOUSTON, Texas -- It wasn't a panhandler asking for spare change, but an oddly dressed teenager holding a sign that's been getting a lot of looks on a freeway feeder in Houston, Texas. You might say the teenager was 'begging' forgiveness.
Seventeen-year-old Mark Anthony Doyle admitted that he stole a lot of pricey items from his employer's home recently. The missing goods included a Rolex watch, assorted electronics, and a drone.
"He brought the watch back," said Brent Franklin, "but it was scratched and the bezel was broken. Then I noticed other things missing. I questioned him, and he lied about it."
Franklin owns Precision Construction & Investments, LLC, and Doyle works for him.
"He works hard," Franklin conceded.
Still, he filed a theft report. Doyle begged him not to press charges, so he gave him a choice, which was jail or Franklin's own brand of punishment. Doyle chose option B.
"He wanted to be noticed, so that's what I decided on," he said.
The attention getting outfit he chose included a pink tank top, shorts with Winnie the Pooh characters printed on the fabric, and a floppy beach hat. He also brought a sign which stated he had stolen from his employer and "I'm happy to be here."
Standing beside the traffic, with the sign held high, Doyle said he was happy, considering the consequence of a felony theft charge, if convicted.
"I'm learning my lesson and not going to jail and learning a worse way," he said.
"We've all lied, and we've all stolen," Franklin said, conceding he did some stupid things as a kid.
Doyle he believes has the potential to change direction, which is why he gave him a second chance, but one with a consequence.
"A good mentor is I'm teaching him a lesson. Everybody said fire him. What good would firing him do?" he said.
Doyle will keep his job, but his pay will be cut in half. He'll also be volunteered to cut lawns for elderly homeowners, and help with minor repair jobs for homeowners who couldn't otherwise afford them.
Franklin said he's had a few negative comments about the public punishment, but stressed that he stood beside Doyle for the entirety of his 'sentence' in sweltering heat, handing him water.
He also had the permission of Cristel Doyle, who said her son is basically a good kid.
"He turned 17 and wanted to move out of the house," she said. "He also dropped out of school, but guess what? After this, he's going back. This is his get out of jail free card. He could be dead next time. I think he(Franklin) did him a big favor."