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

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

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

Ronnie Schreiber
Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

More by Ronnie Schreiber

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  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
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