Vent It To The Judge

$267,000 of stolen HVAC inventory sold on eBay

It’s only a matter of time before these citizens face the inevitability of getting caught stealing industrial equipment.

A Fort Wayne, Ind., couple was arrested May 17 under federal charges, accused of selling approximately $267,000 worth of HVAC parts on eBay after stealing the equipment from a UTEC manufacturing plant in Huntington, Ind., over the course of almost three years.

Dean and Linda Zimmerman both face federal charges: conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. The parts stolen included electronic control boards, control circuits and other electronic components for HVAC systems.

Dean Zimmerman had previously worked at the location for over 15 years.

“Dean Zimmerman had been working at the company until Tuesday, having been hired in 2000 as a test technician. Company officials said Dean Zimmerman had access to the company’s warehouse, where logs show he made multiple entries into the building, trips that were outside the normal scope of his job,” Rebecca Green of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported May 19.

The company was not initially identified, but filed a complaint that provided federal investigators with inventory records showing an absence of more than 12,000 parts from April 2013 to January 2016.

UTEC (United Technologies Electronic Controls) issued the following statement regarding the case, “We are aware of the investigation and are cooperating with authorities.”

Dean Zimmerman admitted to the scheme to federal investigators, according to the complaint which includes details of the business “HVAC Discount Parts LLC”, the false business title that had been set up by the Zimmermans.  FBI investigators used PayPal records to assist their investigation; these show deposits to a checking account associated with the business totaling $364,500 over a period from October 1, 2015 to April 29 of this year.

The accused allegedly used a method that is alarming in a sense of business security; he was employed at the company for almost the entire time he was doing the stealing. Zimmerman allegedly used his access to a UTEC parts storage warehouse to steal certain parts and load them in his truck, subsequently moving them to a storage facility in Fort Wayne. The matches were confirmed using the company’s inventory records and the sales on eBay.

“The case reached a head Tuesday when federal agents raided the Zimmerman’s St. Joe Road home, several unmarked police cars parked around the single-story home and FBI agents moving in and out. The Indiana State Police SWAT team as well as officers with the Fort Wayne Police Department were also at the home in a back-up capacity,” Fort Wayne’s NewsChannel 15 reported.

“Federal agents removed several boxes from the home, and a box truck and van was backed up to an attached garage.”

UTEC is a manufacturer of microprocessor-based controls for the HVAC industry, specializing in controls designed specifically for OEMs. Its products are engineered for ignition, refrigeration, and machine control, and used in additional industries such as food service, recreational vehicles and adjacent markets, and custom controls for pool/spa, RV, and marine industries.

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