Owner-operators lose truck, livelihood in one night

| 11/17/2006

Imagine locking your truck and heading into Wal-Mart for supplies, only to return an hour later to find your truck missing and your livelihood gone.

That's what happened to owner-operators Robert and Diane Whaley of Plant City, FL, after parking their truck in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Stockbridge, GA, on Nov. 14. Their 1999 Freightliner Century bobtail was stolen between the time of 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. while the couple was shopping for supplies inside.

After their initial surprise, Diane Whaley said she and her husband immediately filed a police report with the Henry County police department; however, no one has reported seeing their truck.

"Nobody has seen it at all," Diane said. "It's like it disappeared in thin air."

Besides losing their truck, Diane said the company they were leased to - Southern Freight - suddenly released them from their lease because they could no longer haul for the company. They previously worked as company drivers for Southern Freight for two years before obtaining their own authority.

"We were really surprised when we called the company and they told us they no longer needed us and were terminating our lease," Diane said.

The couple was also left without any financial resources, because Robert Whaley's wallet, which was in the cab of the truck at the time, was also stolen. His wallet contained his driver's license and the couple's bank information. The couple had to call family members to drive to Georgia to pick them up and then drive them back to Florida.

"We were left without any resources," Diane said. "We had to close down our bank account, everything, because of this."

The Whaley's' tractor is "Werner" blue 1999 Freightliner Century bobtail with a custom touches that includes purple and gold paint swatches, and has broken arrow artwork on the back of the cab. The cab doors also feature the name "Pocahontas" in gold lettering. Diane said this was the CB handle for her husband's mom, who was also a truck driver. Two crossed hatchets are also custom-painted on the cab doors.

If you have any information regarding the truck, please call Mike Hardy, detective with the Henry County Police Department, at 404-391-0612.

- Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer