DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Marvin Cooper says he would have to be crazy to steal a tractor-trailer that clearly displays a company's name and that has a tracking device on it. He says he simply wasn't making enough money at Marten Transport and resigned before completing his last run. He says what happened next was out of spite.
“Oh my God, I don't even have words for it,” Cooper said.
Last week, he was driving for Marten Transport. He had picked up his tractor-trailer at the company's Tucker location and was making a drop in Illinois. Last Friday, while on the road, he says he accepted a position with another company and called his bosses to tell them he was quitting.
“They wanted me to stop their truck, get out their truck, (but) if I do that, it's abandonment,” Cooper explained to Channel 2’s Eric Philips.
Since the action would end his trucking career, Cooper said he refused to do that.
“I’m taking their truck back to Tucker, Ga., I’m getting in my vehicle and I’m gone,” Cooper said.
But as he was making his way back to Georgia, authorities near Bowling Green, Ky., surrounded him. Cooper said an officer ordered him to get out of the truck.
“I got out the truck. 'Put your hands on the truck,' he recalled an officer saying, before telling Cooper the truck was reported stolen.
According to the incident report, the tractor-trailer had been listed as stolen in a national crime database, resulting in Cooper being charged with two counts of receiving stolen property.
“I go to jail. I’m in handcuffs, shackles like a common criminal,” Cooper said. “All week I was driving (the tractor-trailer). It wasn't stolen then. But the minute I quit, it's stolen.”
After spending the weekend in jail, a judge released Cooper on an unsecured bond. Philips spoke to two staffers in Marten's human resources department about this incident. One said “no comment,” the other would only say Cooper was “not being truthful,” but would not elaborate any further.
“It was a malicious act. I don't know why,” Cooper said. “Really, I’m going to try to sue them."
Cooper's case in Kentucky is still pending. It has to go before a grand jury to see if there's enough evidence to indict him. He plans to start a new job with another trucking company next week.