Three men are behind bars in Cherokee County, accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of copper from a power station near Lake Arrowhead, and authorities say it is all because a deputy spotted the suspects’ car while on his way to work the next day.
It began at around 2:00 a.m. at a power substation owned by Georgia Transportation Corporation in the 4800 block of Fincher Road in Waleska, according to Lt. Jay Baker at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. Thieves made off with approximately 162 pounds of copper just before deputies arrived.
“We could see the hole they cut in the fence and where they had taken the copper from,” Baker said. “Deputies saw a car in a nearby church parking lot.”
The next day, as Sgt. Todd Shinall was driving to work, he noticed that same car turning down a dirt road near the power plant.
Shinall called for backup.
When it arrived, he and other deputies walked down the muddy road and found two suspects burning the coating off the copper wire, Baker said.
“Unfortunately, it’s very rare to actually catch the suspects,” said Baker. “This sergeant was at the right place at the right time. He spotted this vehicle and he knew it was the same vehicle from the night before. Had he not done that it’s very likely these three suspects would be preparing for their next theft somewhere.”
Donnie Chastain, 40 years old of Talking Rock, Charles Johnson, 34 years old of Marble Hill, and Michael Smith, 31 years old of Ellijay were all three charged with Felony Theft by Taking, Criminal Damage to Property and Criminal Trespass. All three remain in custody at the Cherokee Adult Detention center, held on $17,575.00 bond each.