ATLANTA -- Copper wire thefts are becoming an epidemic for telephone companies like AT&T. A company spokesperson said thefts of telephone lines off of power poles has nearly doubled in the past couple of months. "It's a statewide problem and it is a growing problem," said Lance Skelly.

On Atlanta neighborhood defines the problems the thefts cause. Last Friday morning thieves cut one of the main telephone cables off of power poles on Linkwood Road and put thousands of AT&T customers in the Kevin Heights community out of phone service to their homes.

Resident James Tyler said he has been without phone service for nearly a week. "It affects my security system, my wife works from home at times, when we have Internet," he said.

Tyler and some of the residents wonder if the phone company cares about them. "Friday AT&T was out and then all of a sudden Saturday and Sunday they were not here," said C. Henry Adams.

But Skelly said there's a good reason some never got their service back. He said the thieves came back for more. "It was repaired and thieves came back to the same area again, and I don't know if it was the exact line but the same customers were affected again," he said.

The problem has become so bad AT&T is offering a $3,000 reward for anyone who helps them catch a thief. "People can remain anonymous," Skelly said. "Just call the authorities if they see something that just doesn't look right."

Skelly said he hopes all the phone service will be restored in the Kevin Heights Community by Thursday.

Atlanta city council member C.T. Martin told residents of the community they will have extra police patrols in the neighborhood.

You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kgrowson

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