CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- A warning from the TVA: if you are stealing copper from their power stations, they are out to catch you.

As the resale value of copper climbs, so do the number of thefts at TVA switchyards and substations.

"It's not right," says Kim Peck.

Peck lives about five minutes away from the powerhouse station at Chickamauga Dam, saying she does not understand the desperation of some people.

"If they need copper that bad, maybe they should be looking for moonshine stills or something," she says laughing.

Besides stepping up their presence, TVA police are working closely with neighbors that live near substations, telling them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

The TVA says it has already received many tips and information from neighbors which has helped them solve cases and recover stolen property.

"I wouldn't go up there myself or even think about trying to steal any of it," says Debra Massey.

Massey says on top of breaking the law, there is the risk of losing your life.

TVA officials say stealing copper has the potential of disrupting the power grid, too, which irritates Michael Jerrell.

"I know several people that need electricity essentially because they're either on an oxygen machine, or under intensive care or things like that. It can cause extreme disruptions," says Jerrell.

Bottom line, he wants any copper thief to get caught.

"It's an essential service, like water electricity, things like gas. Essential services have to be protected," he says.

And the TVA agrees. If you see potential copper thieves, call TVA police at 1-800-548-4005.