Six suspected copper thieves arrested - CBS46 News

Police bust copper theft ring

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The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has arrested six people accused of a rash of copper thefts across metro Atlanta.

Sheriff Phil Miller told CBS Atlanta News that the suspects climbed tree stands then used commercial wire cutters to snap telephone wires up to 600 feet long.

"They target secluded areas, places that were out and away from everything, where there's not much traffic," said Miller.

Miller said the ring has been operating in the area for the past several months. He said the thieves would melt the copper wire down and sell it in North Carolina for thousands of dollars.

Investigators said they tracked down the suspects using videotape from a North Carolina recycling facility.

An AT&T spokesman said the company averages approximately 12 line repairs per day because of copper thefts.

"When you factor in the fact that thousands of people are impacted by this each day, it really is not a victimless crime," said Lance Skelly during a news conference Tuesday.

Skelly said when phone service is cut, many do not have the ability to call 911 in an emergency.

"When these lines are cut, it's not just people losing their telephone service or Internet service," said Skelly.  "It's people literally losing their lifeline often times."

The following suspects are in custody:  Harry Reese Wilson, Terry Dwayne Luttrell, Keith Allen Landrum, Mary James, Betty Marie Robinson and Charles Black.

The sheriff vowed to prosecute the six to the fullest extent of the law.

"If you come out here and you commit these crimes, you're not going to like what happens to you," said Miller.  "You're not going to get a slap on the hand and you're not going to get probation."

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