DECATUR, Tenn. — Three people have been charged in the copper theft from a power station that cut power to 90 percent of the county, authorities said this afternoon.
Chad Parker, of Meigs County, and Tommy Fugate, of Athens, are charged with reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing and vandalism of property valued between $10,000 and $60,oo0, Meigs County Detective Keith Kyle said.
Kelly Whited, of Meigs County, is charged with being an accessory after the fact, Detective Kyle said.
“But the vandalism numbers will be going up” as damages from the power outage are totaled, he said. Even the sheriff department’s computer was hit by the outage and damaged, he said.
Thieves broke into a Volunteer Electric Cooperative substation overnight and stole copper wire, Sheriff Walter Hickman said Friday.
The theft knocked out power to most of the county until about 7:30 a.m. Meigs County schools were called off for the day. VEC spokesman Robert McCarty said the thieves may have damaged a transformer at the substation that would cost $200,000 to replace.
The sheriff said Meigs deputies developed leads in the case and called authorities in Rockwood, Tenn. The officers went to a Rockwood recycling center where they detained the three men and recovered about 140 pounds of copper wire.
For complete coverage, see Saturday’s Times Free Press.