A couple years ago a Texas plumber sold his work truck, with its Mark-1 Plumbing stickers still in place on the doors. After ISIS got their hands on the vehicle, this act has caused him endless problems and he is now taking the dealership to court.
When Mark Oberholtzer of Mark-1 Plumbing reportedly decided to trade in his 2005 Ford F-250 for a new one in October 2013, he started to peel off the company stickers from the doors. However, the Ford dealership, AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway in Texas City, told him to stop, claiming that to remove the stickers would blemish the vehicle paint and saying they had something better for removing them from the doors.
According to the New York Post, at the time, he had no idea that the dealership would never actually remove the stickers when they sold the truck on to its new owner. However, he heard the bad news on December 17, 2014 when his secretary called him as he drove to Corpus Christi.
Two days before that, a tweet had appeared from a member of Ansar al-Deen, a jihadi group, with a “propaganda photo” showing jihadis shooting an anti-aircraft gun from Oberholtzer’s old work truck, clearly displaying the company’s stickers on the door. The tweet by ISIS read “using a plumbing truck against regime in #Aleppo.”
— Caleb Weiss (@Weissenberg7) December 15, 2014
By the end of that day, Oberholtzer had received over 1,000 phone calls from all over the USA, with endless threats of violence, property harm, injury and even death, saying the plumber had sold his truck to ISIS.
His secretary was too scared to go to the office and, afraid for himself and his family, Oberholtzer went to McAllen for nine days to get away from the hostile onslaught. He then called the dealership to discuss the situation and was told they “never touched the truck,” but sent it on to Dallas instead.
Oberholtzer then managed to get hold of a vehicle history report for the truck which clearly showed the truck was sold at auction in Texas in November 2013, and was then shipped the following month from Houston to Turkey. Some time after that, the truck found its way into the hands of ISIS militants.
— J.McQuonk PhD (@JMcQuonk) December 14, 2015
The Texas plumber’s life was thrown into turmoil with all the video and media attention the story received with endless requests for interviews from USA Today, CBS, NBC, Inside Edition and others. He also received visits from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and was told by agents “there are crazy people out there” and was warned to protect himself, after which he started carrying a gun.
To make matters worse, the story even hit the Colbert Report on December 18, 2014, with a segment titled “Texan’s Truck in Syria” showing images of his previous work truck being driven by the ISIS militants. That particular episode was reportedly watched by 2.481 million viewers, and was said to be the most watched episode ever. It can be seen in the video included at the end of this article.
A propaganda photo of Oberholtzer’s truck – featuring ‘Mark-1 Plumbing’ stickers and his phone number – went… https://t.co/a2uZL8cWT3
— Melvin J Hirtzel Sr (@mhirtzsr) December 12, 2015
While the episode caused much amusement for the audience, a year down the line and Oberholtzer is still reportedly getting threatening phone calls, especially when ISIS commits an atrocity that is reported countrywide.
Oberholtzer has since taken AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway to court about the fact that his company’s logo and phone number were still clearly displayed on the vehicle door when the vehicle found its way into ISIS hands.
According to the Huffington Post, the plumber is seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages from the dealership for fraud, gross negligence, negligent misrepresentation, defamation, invasion of privacy, and deceptive trade for leaving his company’s stickers on the vehicle.
[Photo screen capture from YouTube]