For the second time in a matter of weeks, a trailer has been stolen in Albemarle County, leaving another small business owner searching for answers.
This time the victim was Sabrina Feggans, owner of Beyond Fitness with Sabrina, a mobile gym that hosted events and workouts at outdoors spaces.
The trailer, which Feggans bought in 2018, as well as the thousands of dollars of equipment within it were essential to her business, she told The Daily Progress.
“These are things we worked very, very hard for, and the community has seen us work very, very hard to be able to obtain over all these years,” Feggans said. “My husband and I worked to get all this stuff literally on our own.”
In addition to speakers, tables and other items used for hosting events, inside the trailer were dumbbells, slam balls, sleds, hex bars and other gym equipment Feggans and her husband had accumulated over the past seven years.
“Workout equipment is not cheap,” said Feggans.
She reported her trailer stolen the night of Aug. 14.
When the couple went to sleep that evening, the trailer was settled in the same spot they’d parked it for the past four years. But when Feggans’ husband woke up at 2:30 a.m. for work, he walked outside to find the trailer had disappeared. All that remained was its tire stocks.
“It was literally a trailer that the community was used to seeing every day parked on street, and now it’s not there,” Feggans said. “People are like, ‘How in the world did this get stolen?’”
She estimates that her insurance will only cover half the cost of the thousands of dollars in stolen property.
“I feel really bad for Sabrina, because I know she worked hard to get her equipment and to get where she’s at now,” Angelic Jenkins told The Daily Progress. “For somebody to take that is very disturbing.”
Jenkins called Feggans after hearing the news to express her condolences and also get tips. As the owner of the mobile Angelic’s Kitchen, she said she worries her food truck could be next.
“I’m afraid, because I have my food truck parked in Charlottesville and I’m paying rent to park in a parking lot. How are people taking away these trucks?” she asked.
Feggans is not the only person whose had a trailer — and their livelihood — vanish overnight.
Khadija Hemmati’s food truck was stolen in late July. Authorities still have not been able to locate it.
“To be honest, I pray every night for it,” Hemmati told The Daily Progress.
The 14-foot black trailer contained a stove, an oven, a fridge, a freezer, tables, a custom-made sink, a water heater, a generator and two propane tanks.
“Everything that we needed to operate the business was inside, and it was all brand new,” she said.
Feggans heard about Hemmati’s stolen food truck on social media. It really upset her, she said, but she didn’t consider at the time that her trailer could also be a target. Hemmati’s food truck was stolen in Seminole Square and Feggans’ was stolen in Hollymead.
“It’s starting to be a trend,” Feggans said. “It’s putting other businesses on alert.”
Albemarle County police detective Nick Richardson has been assigned to Feggans’ case. While he said he can’t rule out the possibility, for now he does not see a connection between the two incidents.
“I’ve spoken with city detectives as well and we don’t have anything to say this is a large-scale conspiracy of stealing trailers,” Richardson told The Daily Progress.
No arrests have been made and the investigations remain active.
Richardson said he is canvassing the area and interviewing people in search of leads. He said the public can be a big help to finding a missing vehicle, and he encourages anyone who sees something suspicious to report it to police. He said he is also keeping an eye on pawn shops in case the thieves choose to sell the stolen equipment and trailer parts.
“I can’t guarantee I’m going to find it but going to do all in my power to get it back to the victim,” he said.
Richardson named a number of precautions other trailer owners can take to prevent falling into a similar situation as Feggans and Hemmati.
Owners should park their vehicle in well-lit areas, preferably somewhere with cameras. Video evidence can give police information that might help them locate the vehicle. Putting a hitch lock can also deter criminals, because the lock takes time to cut and makes it more difficult for someone to drive off with the trailer. Finally, Richardson said people should consider installing a GPS tracker on their vehicles so that police can “track down the suspect immediately.”
Feggans and Hemmati are both holding out hope that police have a breakthrough. In the meantime, Hemmati is doing catering jobs and selling her Afghan food at farmers markets.
“I couldn’t give up. I’m not that type of person,” Hemmati said.
Both business owners mentioned receiving an outpouring of support from the community, which has been helpful in a painful time.
Feggans has some remaining equipment in a studio she’s leasing at the Fashion Square shopping mall. That will allow her to keep teaching some classes, but the lease ends in November. And she’s already committed to a number of other events later in the year.
“We need to get supplies, and we definitely need a trailer and the equipment,” she said. “I’ve looked around for a trailer, and they are extremely expensive now compared to 2018. They’ve almost tripled in cost.”
Anyone with information on the trailers should contact Charlottesville or Albemarle County police.
“We’re entrepreneurs. We get out there and work really hard to grow our business, and for somebody to steal from us after we work so hard, it’s so easy for them to take it away,” Jenkins said. “It blows my mind how cruel some people are.”