by: Dave Huddleston Updated:DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. —
The Douglas County Sheriff's Department is calling the recent arrest of six suspects the biggest copper theft ring ever in the county's history.
Sheriff Phil Miller said they had been stealing copper from telephone wire for about five to six months and may have stolen "a couple tons" of copper.
"They would go to isolated areas in the middle of the night and use deer stands to get up onto the telephone poles and cut copper wire," Miller said.
Miller told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston the suspects would then melt the copper down and travel to North Carolina with their stolen copper.
New Georgia laws do not allow recycling plants to accept melted or burned copper.
Miller said they got a tip from AT&T that someone was stealing copper in the Douglasville area.
He said more arrests are pending.
The six suspects are being charged under the RICO statute.
"So they could be sent away for a long time," Miller said.
AT&T said they starting receiving calls from customers that their service was disconnected.
"This is not a victimless crime. So, one of our customers may be waiting on a phone call for a new heart transplant or they just started a business, so that missing call has a human cost associated with it," Lance Skelly with AT&T said.