By Atlanta Business Chronicle

Georgiaâ¿¿s electric utilities have a shocking new offer -- $3,000 to anyone who gives information that leads directly to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the theft of copper and other metals from utility properties.

The beefed 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. Starting in February 2009, they offered $500 for information.

Jointly, the utilities said 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. Damaged lines pose a danger of electrocution to anyone in the area, including utility workers.

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.

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