Photo of two suspects in battery thefts in Douglas County
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga - Investigators in two metro Atlanta counties say they're seeing a new trend in crime ever since the state started its crackdown of copper thefts.
In one case, the suspects made it easy for investigators by leaving a cell phone and picture behind.
Thieves are now targeting large industrial truck batteries that can be sold at scrap yards for the lead.
In Douglas County, Dennis Stanley is one of several victims. Most recently he had at least a dozen batteries stolen from trucks parked at his repair shop. It's not as many as criminals got the last time they came to his business.
"I had about 40 stacked up, and they unloaded every one of those," said Stanley. "That was a good haul for them."
Investigators in both Douglas and Fulton Counties have witnessed the trend.
Last year, Georgia cracked down on copper thefts by passing a law requiring scrap yards to ask for identification and keep a record of anyone selling certain metals.
Authorities say batteries, sold as scrap for the lead inside, is exempt.
Douglas County investigator John Skinner says it has led to an increasing number of battery thefts, particularly large truck batteries that can weigh between 60 and 100 pounds.
"We're seeing a shift from copper theft to lead core theft," said Skinner. "It actually in the last few months has grown in Douglas County."
Authorities are currently looking for two suspects in the thefts at Dennis Stanley's business.
While investigating those battery thefts, investigators found a cell phone with a picture of a man and a woman. Deputies posted it on the Sheriff's Department's Facebook page, and in no time they had names for their two suspects.
"I thought that was great," said Stanley. "I've heard of dumb criminals on TV." A little celebration to go with the frustration of all he's lost.
Douglas County authorities say it may be time for lawmakers to consider doing as they've done with copper, and make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen batteries at scrap yards.