In the wake of increased copper thefts, Georgia's electric utilities are offering up to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved in the theft of copper and other metals from their property.

Copper thefts from substations, utility poles and lines continue to be a growing problem and public safety issue. The thefts threaten the reliability of the electric system and could cause power outages in some cases. In addition, damaged lines pose a danger of electrocution to anyone in the area, including utility workers.

These crimes affect many businesses throughout the state and their ability to provide essential services. Utilities are aggressively working with law enforcement agencies and scrap recyclers to apprehend the perpetrators. This increased reward is one tool to encourage the public's assistance.

Details such as a tag number, a physical description of a person or a car could be especially helpful. Anyone who observes suspicious activity around an electric substation or other utility facility is asked to contact the statewide copper theft hotline at 1-877-732-8717. If a theft is in progress, the witness should notify 911 first, then call the hotline.

In February 2009 utilities began offering $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone associated with copper thefts. Officials hope the increased reward will encourage members of the public to come forward with valuable information.

Up to $3,000 will be paid to anyone who furnishes information that leads directly to the arrest and conviction of someone involved in metals theft from a utility property in Georgia.

The reward is being offered by Dalton Utilities, Electric Cities of Georgia, 42 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Georgia EMC, Georgia Power, Georgia Transmission Corp. and Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.