It's considered the Cadillac of trucks and it was William Mac Sutton's "pride and joy" -- a chrome-studded 1990 Peterbilt that came with a stand-up sleeper and a $125,000 price tag.
Last Friday, Mr. Sutton pulled the customized rig into the Baltimore Truck Plaza to refuel. Within 10 minutes, it had vanished along with its 48-foot trailer containing $55,000 worth of seafood.
The theft has left city police puzzled and Mr. Sutton so heart-broken that he has rented a room at the truck stop so he can scour the city looking for the truck.
"I'm devastated. I just can't believe it. I only left it long enough to go to the restroom and make a call," said Mr. Sutton, a 30-year-old Eastern Shore resident.
Mr. Sutton said he has been a trucker for about 10 years and he spent most of that time driving "pieces of junk." His luck changed about three years ago. That's when the operator of a North Carolina seafood firm came up with the deal that put Mr.
Sutton behind the wheel of the Peterbilt. Under the arrangement, Mr. Sutton receives a salary for driving the truck and the seafood owner handles the financial end of the business.
While Mr. Sutton doesn't actually own the Peterbilt, he has a special relationship with it.
"This [truck] has been my pride and joy. I worked hard. I was on the road seven days a week," Mr. Sutton said. "I spent a couple thousand dollars of my own money putting chrome on the tractor. Everything I owned was in that tractor."
The Baltimore Truck Plaza is located in the 5500 block of Boston St. in Southeast Baltimore. A spokesman for the truck stop's security force said truck thefts rarely occur there.
"We have as many as 1,500 trucks stop here every day and there might be but one or two thefts a year," said Paul W. Adams, the security force spokesman.
City police said they are not aware of a major theft problem at the busy truck stop.
Mr. Sutton said he believes that the tractor-trailer may have been taken to a nearby warehouse where its shipment of seafood was unloaded. "It didn't have much fuel in it," he explained.
Mr. Sutton said he longs to locate the rig so he can get back on the road.
"I love driving. I'm my own boss out there. I have always enjoyed it. It's not like working nine to five in a factory," he said.