Donnie Chastain, 40, of Talking Rock; Charles Johnson, 34, of Marble Hill; and Michael Smith, 31, of Ellijay, were arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on charges of felony theft by taking, criminal damage to property and criminal trespass, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jay Baker.
The incident began on Tuesday at 2 a.m. when Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to an alarm call at a power substation belonging to Georgia Transportation Corp. at 4898 Fincher Road in Waleska, Baker said in a release.
Deputies discovered the perimeter fence has been cut and found additional evidence to suggest someone had recently been on the property.
Employees of Amicolola Electric Membership Corp. arrived on the scene and determined that about 162 pounds of copper had been stolen from the substation, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The cost to replace the copper is estimated at $3,800, Baker said.
Baker said that later that evening Sgt. Todd Shinall, who had responded to the theft earlier in the day, was reporting for duty when he observed a vehicle traveling on Fincher Road.
“He recalled seeing the same vehicle in the vicinity of the copper theft earlier in the day. The vehicle turned down a dirt road near the same Amicolola power station.” Baker said in the release.
Sgt. Shinall called for assistance and due to the condition of the muddy road, he and other deputies walked down the road.
They located two suspects in the woods near the truck and one suspect inside the truck. The two suspects in the woods appeared to be preparing to burn the rubber coating off copper wiring, Baker said.
A quantity of copper, suspected to be the same copper stolen from the substation was recovered at the scene, according to Baker.
All three remain in custody at the Cherokee Adult Detention center on $17,575 bond each.