WALESKA, Ga. -- Three north Georgia men are in jail in Cherokee County for stealing copper from a power substation.

The copper was first reported stolen at around 2 a.m. Tuesday from a Waleska substation belonging to the Georgia Transportation Corporation, according to Cherokee County Sheriff's Lt. Jay Baker.

The suspects cut through a fence to get inside the station, Baker said. Investigators estimated the thieves took about 162 pounds, or $3,800 worth, of copper.

Tuesday evening, a sheriff's sergeant saw a car matching the description of one spotted near the crime scene. Baker said the sergeant watched two men get out of the car and take some copper into the woods, apparently to burn the rubber coating off the wiring.

Sheriff's deputies arrested the two men in the woods and a third man in the truck. The suspects were identified as 40-year-old Donnie Chastain of Talking Rock, 34-year-old Charles Johnson of Marble Hill and 31-year-old Michael Smith of Ellijay.

Baker said investigators also recovered the stolen copper in the men's truck.

All three suspects face charges of theft, property damage and trespassing. They are being held in the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center on $17,575 bond.

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