PIEDMONT TRIAD, N.C. -- Thousands of dollars in damage; thousands of people without power; one big problem.

There's been a trend of stolen copper from Duke Energy substations in the Triad. It's happened several times over the past few weeks in both Rockingham and Guilford counties and investigators are still trying to track the stolen metal.

"If we find out that a customer is selling stolen material, the local law enforcement is notified and that person is barred from any of our facilities and they're also prosecuted," explains Dwayne Bates.

Bates is the yard manager at Foss Recycling, a scrapyard in Reidsville. He says law enforcement keeps them in the loop if there's been stolen metal reported.

"If they have tips, someone's had something stolen, they contact us and we're on the lookout for it."

They also know what to look for: new product.

"Your typical peddler will bring you stuff that's ripped out of your house or something to that effect," Bates explains. "Not stuff that's brand new, never been used. That's a telltale sign right there."

To top it all off, Foss requires a person to provide a photo ID before they can sell and if it's a large quantity of metal the seller has to show proof where it came from.

"We've got a pretty good tracking system," Bates says.

The folks at Foss Recycling say if they suspect stolen metal, they'll try to stall the suspect while they call it in to police. A lot of scrap metal yards WFMY News 2 reached out to have similar procedures and say good relationships with law enforcement is key.

As for the Duke Energy substations, investigators in both Guilford and Rockingham counties are trying to figure out who did it. The power company has lost more than $100,000 worth of copper. It's not clear if the crimes are connected.