AutoZone employees charged with theft of auto parts

Published 2:41 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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Pair would allegedly sell the parts to individuals, businesses


A pair of employees from an Austin auto parts store have been charged with two felonies apiece for their roles in a scheme to sell stolen parts for cash.

Christopher David Simmons, 40, and Jeremiah Coal Beaman, 24, were both charged Friday in Mower County District Court with two counts of felony theft. Their next appearance is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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According to court complaints, Simmons and Beaman allegedly stole parts from AutoZone, located at 1100 18th Avenue NW, and then sold them to both individuals and businesses in Austin.

They would then split the cash.

The complaint states that according to the AutoZone district store manager, from November of 2022 to now the store had an inventory loss of $57,326.27.

A director for loss prevention for AutoZone added that while Simmons, the AutoZone store manager, and Beaman’s alleged thefts weren’t responsible for all of that amount, the thefts did represent more than half.

The complaint states that at around 10 p.m. on Feb. 8, Austin Police were dispatched to AutoZone after the director for loss prevention wanted to report a theft by employee.

She had been waiting for the district store manager to arrive to place cameras inside the store after employees left. This came after a tip about stolen merchandise from the store.

While waiting, the woman reported observing Beaman loading up his truck with parts. She decided to confront Beaman, who allegedly told her that Simmons had recruited him and admitted that there was stolen merchandise at his residence in the 300 block of 12th Avenue SW.

The value of the parts loaded into Beaman’s truck was listed at $981.84 and included truck brakes and rotors.

According to Beaman, Simmons would instruct him to deliver stolen items to a specific location where he would meet someone and get the cash. He also indicated that Simmons threatened to blame the operation on him if Beaman said anything.

The complaint goes on to say that during the conversation with Beaman, Simmons had repeatedly tried calling to figure out why the stolen merchandise had not been dropped off yet at Beaman’s home.

Austin Police Officers instructed Beaman to answer the phone and put it on speaker and told Simmons that there had been a robbery at the store and could not make the drop.

Simmons then denied knowing what he meant and asked why the district manager had been contacted before him.

Officers were given permission to search Beaman’s home where they discovered items valued at $2,010.77. While officers were at the scene, Simmons was observed passing the area and had allegedly called Beaman’s wife asking what was going on.

At around 12:41 a.m. the next morning, police were called back to the residence on a report that Simmons was observed looking through windows. Police were instructed to look for a gold Chevy Tahoe.

The Tahoe was located at around 1:35 a.m. at a residence in the 300 block of Second Street SW where they made contact with Simmons.

Simmons allegedly denied involvement, however, a new car battery was found in the garage. Despite saying he was only at the house to see what happened and to check if Beaman was all right, Simmons was arrested and taken to Mower County Jail.

During further questioning, Beaman, who was also arrested, told an Austin Police detective that exchanges would take place during both the day and night at Galloway Park. He said that from October of 2022 to now, there were 10-12 deliveries made for cash.

When Simmons was questioned, he allegedly admitted to stealing the items saying he had made a “huge mistake” and “got in over his head.”

He allegedly admitted that from February 2022 to October of 2022, they were stealing items and making approximately $100-$200 a week. However, starting in October of that same year the operation increased to $500-$1,000 a week.