A McMinn County business manager took matters into his own hands after a thief got away with thousands of dollars in metal materials.

It wasn't until he placed a $40 deer camera on a shelf that he realized it was an employee behind the crime. Sheriff Joe Guy is encouraging others to make the same investment.

"We can't be everywhere all the time. Citizens can't be everywhere all the time. Deer cameras are a very cost-efficient way to monitor your property," Guy said.

Howard Drake, Jr. of Cleveland was the weekend security guard at Bluegrass Materials Company in Calhoun. He's accused of stealing thousands of dollars of copper while on the clock.

After the manager started noticing 1,500 pounds of copper wiring worth $4,000 had gone missing several weeks ago, he placed a hidden deer camera on a shelf inside the facility's garage. The low-cost camera takes high quality pictures. It captured multiple images of a shirtless Drake with the stolen copper wire.

"We've solved a lot of crimes with deer cameras," said Guy.

Drake confessed to selling the stolen copper to a metal dealer in Bradley County. Although there are several state laws designed to crack down on metal thieves, serial numbers can't be tracked on scrap metal like copper wires.

"Sometimes it's hard to look at a pile of metal and pick out what was a piece of copper from this business that was stolen, as opposed to just a piece of copper that someone's brought in on their own from their own home," Guy said.

That's why the Sheriff's Office is lending a hand, offering to help folks place their deer cameras in a location that can pick out the thief.

"We've put a lot of people in jail with those," said Guy.

Deer cameras can be purchased at sporting goods stores. Drake was charged and booked into the McMinn County Jail. He is currently out on bond.