Peoria resident Robert Lawrence, 51, rides his bike to work at a fast-food restaurant about 3 1/2 miles from his home.
It's a bike someone has let him borrow.
Saturday night, he was just about to round the corner into his mobile home park when two men jumped him from behind.
"They took me down to the ground, broke my bike and hit me a bit," Lawrence said. "And then they demanded my money."
He described being on the ground, having a hard time breathing. He also said he wasn't moving much and he believes that's what scared the men away. Lawrence said he grabbed for his cell phone in his pocket and called police.
Among the Peoria police officers to show up was Officer Mike Faith. He described Lawrence as being shaken up and hurt, but not in need of an ambulance.
After the officers cleared the scene and collected evidence, Lawrence's story stayed with Faith and an idea popped into his head.
"Probably about an hour or two later, I got with some of the guys and said, 'Hey, do you want to chip in money to buy this guy a new bike?'" said Faith.
Before he could even finish his thought, Faith said his squad mates started to hand him money.
"I couldn't believe that everybody just started handing me money," Faith said. "My sergeant said, 'I'll double what you guys get.'"
Tuesday night, Lawrence said he got a call from the Peoria Police Department.
"They called me up and said they wanted to come over and I didn't know why," Lawrence said. "I thought maybe it was something about the case."
Instead, Lawrence got the surprise of his lifetime.
"They showed up with a beautiful Schwinn bicycle, a new light kit and a new lock," Lawrence said. "And they told me if I wasn't happy with any of it I could take it back to Walmart and exchange it for something I wanted. But this is perfect! Nothing's getting exchanged and it's just a wonderful."
Another officer who helped investigate the robbery against Lawrence and who contributed to the bike fund said he was moved by Lawrence's story.
"It was his only means of transportation to work and the guy works 35 blocks away at a local fast-food restaurant," Officer Joe Smith said. "And he probably passes five or six of them on his way to that location because that's where he works."
Faith described seeing Lawrence's reaction to their gift as one of the best moments of his career.
"To really touch somebody, this is why I became a police officer," Faith said. "Whenever you know that you truly help somebody and then you go home, I just can't even describe the feeling."
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:58 PM EDT2013-06-18 16:58:02 GMT
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