A bin lorry was stolen while the council worker driver was out on his rounds this Christmas Eve, Derbyshire police have said.
The driver of the Erewash Borough Council tipper van was pushed to the ground by the thief who later abandoned the vehicle.
The theft happened on Monday December 24 at about 3.35pm in Tamworth Road, Long Eaton.
The refuse collector stopped to empty a street bin and as he got out of the vehicle he was pushed from behind and fell over.
As he stood up from the fall in which he injured his elbow, he saw a man in the driving seat.
He described the thief as being in his late 20s, of average build and with short, light brown, curly hair.
He was wearing a light brown jacket.
Shortly afterwards the van was found in Norfolk Road in the town.
Police are hoping that witnesses will come forward with information.
Anyone with any information about the incident, should call Derbyshire police on 101.
Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 080 555 111.