Texas Plumber Sues Dealer After Traded In Truck, With His Advertising, Ends Up With Syrian Jihadis

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
texas plumber sues dealer after traded in truck with his advertising ends up with

Many car buyers don’t like it when car dealers put hard to remove dealer decals on their new cars. Now a Texas plumber is suing a dealer for not removing decals advertising his plumbing business from a traded-in truck.

When Mark Oberholtzer, who owns Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, Texas, traded in his Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup on a new truck at AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway in October 2013, he says he started to remove the decals — but a dealer employee stopped him.

Oberholtzer now claims, in a $1 million lawsuit recently filed against the dealer, that a salesman said removing the decals would blemish the paint and the dealer had “something better for removal”.

A little more than a year later, Oberholtzer’s secretary alerted him to a photograph of his truck that had gone viral. Ansar al-Din, one of the Islamic jihadist groups fighting in Syria’s civil war, had tweeted out a photo of the truck complete with Mark-1’s name and phone numbers — but the truck was now equipped with an anti-aircraft gun mounted in the bed manned by masked jihadis. The tweet was accompanied by the message “‘using plumbing truck against regime in

The suit alleges that, “By the end of the day, Mark-1’s office, Mark-1’s business phone, and Mark’s personal cellphone had received over 1,000 phone calls from the around the nation. These phone calls were in large part harassing and contained countless threats of violence, property harm, injury and even death.”

Oberholtzer claims his secretary was so frightened by the threats that she refused to come in to the office, and that Oberholtzer and his family went to McCallen for more than a week to escape the barrage. While in McCallen, Oberholtzer says that he called the dealership and was told dealer personnel never touched the truck before it was shipped to Dallas. A vehicle history report shows the truck was sold at auction in Texas in November 2013 and shipped from Houston to Turkey by the end of that year.

The day after the jihadi photo of the truck went viral, “The Colbert Report” had its final episode before Colbert took David Letterman’s seat at CBS. The December 18, 2014 episode led with a segment titled “Texan’s Truck in Syria”. That episode was seen by almost 2.5 million viewers.

In addition to media attention, traditional and social, Oberholtzer was visited by agents of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, whom he claims told him “there are crazy people out there” and to “protect himself”. As a result, Oberholtzer now carries a gun.

The plumber claims that harm to his business and his life from the jihadi pickup photo still continues a year later. “Whenever ISIS commits an atrocity that is reported nationally,” the phone number listed on the side of the jihadi truck starts ringing, the suit alleges.

It’s an interesting lawsuit. Normally, I’d say that Oberholtzer is suing the dealer because Americans have long been litigious, he feels damaged and that’s the only party he can sue. He can’t exactly sue Ansar al-whatever. However, the dealer’s employee did stop him from removing the identifying marks from the truck and the salesman did imply that they’d remove the stickers. It wouldn’t be the first time a salesman at a car dealership promised something that didn’t happen and Mark the plumber just might get some sympathy from a jury.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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  • Bkojote I think it's a home run that VW is bound to bungle.For the anti-CUV crowd there's a cool factor here as pickup trucks have become so cartoonish. This will absolutely embarrass the neighbor with a GMC pavement princess pile in the driveway. Even better, the VW van fandom hasn't ruined these the same way it has the Sprinter, and honestly the design looks tight. And believe it or not there's huge demands for minivans- look no further than the unobtanium that is the Toyota Sienna.So here's what's going to go wrong-These are going to be priced on the premium end and they'll be hype for the first 3 years. The owners (whom The MKIV coil packs and dieselgate disasters a distant memory) trading in their post-college Rav4's and CR-V's are going to quickly discover the whole host of Volkswagen failures- bad sensors, glitchy software, leaking roofs, and hell it'll probably have an emissions scandal of its own somehow. This on top of the already terrible haptic controls VW has, the unreliable charging network, and terrible range. And they'll have the privilege of endlessly fighting with Sleazy Sam's VW dealership after the 4th flat bed tow.They're gonna make the same mistake the kids did in the 80's with the rabbit, the 90's with the Passat and Jetta, and the 00-10's with the TDI's- think VW finally turned the corner and stopped making garbage before doing the trade of shame back to Toyota and Honda.
  • Buickman the only fire should be in the board room.they just hired an executive from Whirlpool.that should help them go do the drain.
  • Mike Beranek I don't care about the vehicles. But I'd be on board for inspecting the drivers.
  • Art Vandelay Coming to a rental lot near you. And when it does know there is a good chance EBFlex and Tassos have puffed each other's peters in it!
  • Art Vandelay I doubt there is even room for EBFlex and Tassos to puff each other's peters in that POS