CHESTERFIELD, Va. – Robbie Peden calls it one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
On Monday afternoon, Peden left his 1999 Ford Diesel running outside a Virginia 7-Eleven, a decision he said has derailed the life he struggled for years to build after a freak softball accident.
"I always stop in, run in, get me a Sprite Big Gulp," Peden told WTVR. “That was my mistake for leaving the keys in it."
Surveillance video shows the suspect riding a bike into the 7-Eleven parking lot, where he gets off, casually walks up to the pickup and takes off. Peden was paying for his drink when he saw the man get into his vehicle.
"Never ran or nothing, walked and got in the truck like it was his and took off,” Peden said. “I ran out the door and when I hollered he seen me and he punched it, floored and took off and head(ed) towards the interstate.”
Peden has spent the last three years trying to turn his life around, a process which he proudly said included his 4-month-old son and girlfriend of two years. It also included the lawn care business he started to supplement his disability check.
"If it wasn't for my lawn care, I wouldn't be able to take care of my two kids and pay my bills,” he said. Chesterfield County police told WTVR they managed to recover the truck and take a suspect into custody Tuesday afternoon – but they couldn't find the trailer and the equipment Peden needs to work.
More than a decade ago, Peden was hit by a softball while running to first base. The ball struck him in the temple, and he said it crushed his face. He got two steel plates inserted, but the event still caused him to suffer seizures.
About six months ago, Peden bought his truck and a small trailer to carry all his equipment and tools after his lawn care business started growing.
"Everything that I've done the last three or four years, just got taken from me,” Peden said. "Now I've got my kids, I've met somebody cares about me and I'm trying to grow up and it all got taken from me."
Chesterfield County Police is asking anyone with information about the missing equipment to call Crime Solvers at (804) 748-0660.