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THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2007
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Truck owner finds his stolen pickup for sale

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Ricky Coker said he put a great deal of work into getting his 1977 Chevrolet pickup running.

"I built that truck from the ground up," said the 51-year-old Decatur resident. "It didn't even have a motor in it when I got it. ... It had a lot of hard work and a lot of time involved in it."

That's why, when he went Tuesday to look at a pickup a man had for sale, he immediately recognized the truck as the one stolen last July.

The truck was still painted white and had the same toolbox and steel bed Coker put on it.

If he had any doubts, they evaporated when he found an old electric bill in his name lying in the floorboard.

The man who put the truck up for sale said he had bought it for parts from A&S Metals, Coker said.

The truck apparently came close to being scrap metal.

The man who bought the truck from A&S "was nice about it," Coker said. "He said he didn't have to give the truck to me, but he would if I could prove it was mine. He was going to have to try and get his money back because he didn't know it was stolen."

Coker showed the man the auto title. That night, he towed the pickup to his mother's house, where he intends to make some minor repairs.

"I never did think I'd see it again, but it's sitting down here in my mama's yard," Coker said.

"My daddy passed away in January. I wished he was here to see me get my truck back. He was the one who bought the bed for me. He'd be tickled to death because you won't find another steel bed like that. I'm glad to get it back myself. I cried and cried and cried over that truck."

Coker reported the recovery to police, who will investigate, said Lt. Chris Mathews, a police spokesman.

Coker said he hopes police find out who stole the truck from his residence in the 700 block of Cedar Lake Road on July 26 or 27, while he was in the hospital. Tools and other property that were in the truck at the time are still missing.

A man at A&S Metals who answered the phone, but did not identify himself, said police had not spoken with the company. He said the company photocopies the ID of anyone who brings in a vehicle as scrap.

Coker said he owes an apology to a local pawnshop after he saw a truck the shop had for sale. The truck was the same model, year and color as his. Coker said he initially suspected some of the replaced parts on it came from his own pickup, and he accused people at the pawnshop of buying parts from his truck.

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