Justin W. Beckmann

A Washington man who pleaded guilty to sleeping in city hall last year has been charged with allegedly stealing a truck.

Justin W. Beckmann, 25, was charged in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with one felony count of stealing a motor vehicle.

Washington police said Beckmann allegedly stole a truck from a parking lot in the city. Police said the theft took place Monday, Feb. 17, from the parking lot of Krawitz Tire and Auto located at 105 E. Fifth St. in Washington.

The following day, Beckmann was involved in a motor vehicle crash. The crash was being investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Washington police provided assistance.

The investigation took place at Mercy Hospital Washington because Beckmann was injured in the crash.

Police said Beckmann admitted that the he had stolen the vehicle involved in the crash. The vehicle was the same that was reported stolen from Krawitz Tire and Auto.

Previous Charge

Beckmann pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and tampering with a motor vehicle in October 2019. The charges stemmed from an incident when Beckmann entered Washington City Hall unlawfully and operated a city vehicle without permission in August of 2018.

Washington officials were surprised to learn in September 2018 that a homeless man spent most evenings over a two- to three-week span living in a city hall office.

Beckmann, 24, was arrested after an investigation of reckless driving led police to the man, who admitted to sleeping in the city’s engineering department’s office and driving a city vehicle around town.

According to police, employees in the engineering department had noticed strange things happening in the office in the weeks leading up to Beckmann’s arrest, including change missing from desks, city keys being moved, extra gas being needed for the department’s vehicle and employee lunches being mysteriously eaten.

Upon arrest, Beckmann admitted he had not only been sleeping inside the office at night and using a city vehicle, but also eating food and stealing change, police said at the time.

Beckmann gained access to city hall when he decided to sleep in a staircase on the southern side of the building. A staircase there descends to a door that leads to the engineering department’s office.

Beckmann told police when he went to the stairwell he had planned to sleep in for the night he noticed a key left in the door. Beckmann took the key, slipped inside the building and began his extended stay in the office.

The detective said Beckmann would come in and out of the office during the evenings and early morning and claimed to have only used the vehicle “once or twice.”

A citizen called police to report a man recklessly driving a city vehicle around town. The citizen provided a photo of the man at the wheel of the truck.

City officials did not recognize the man, but some police officers recognized him as a homeless individual in the area. The next day, he was arrested.

Beckmann was placed on five years’ probation for the incident in October 2019.