Roanoke Co., VA - Officials say $20,000 worth of used batteries were stolen from an Interstate Battery store, and Roanoke County detectives think at least a few people are behind it.
It happened on back to back days in late October.
Surveillance videos shows on the first night, the people pull up to Interstate Battery on Main Street - filling up what appears to be a dark colored KIA and then drive away hundreds of dollars richer.
"When we came to work that Friday morning our gate was cut," said Fernandez from Interstate Battery.
Whether they knew it or not, it was all caught on camera.
"We reviewed the camera footage and saw where they came a couple different times during that night in two different vehicles and loaded their cars up - multiple times during the night," said Fernandez.
The next day, the thieves returned arriving just minutes after the owner left. Undeterred by the vehicles parked to block the gate, the thieves cut a hole in the fence to get in and then began loading batteries over the fence after cutting the barbed wire.
A neighbor saw the burglars and called police who missed the thieves by one minute. Investigators believe the scrap value of the batteries is the motive.
"It's the lead inside of them," said Fernandez.
The price of lead is up 500% since 2003 to about $1 a pound. The average person can get about 30 cents per battery pound at a recycling center.
"They can turn the average car battery, depending on how much it weighs, into $10-$20 per battery," said Fernandez.
It's a trend that is growing nationwide, especially this year.
"It used to not be an issue because they weren't worth anything, but now that they are worth something it's become an issue," said Fernandez.
Investigators say they did serve a search warrant in southeast Roanoke regarding the case but have yet to make arrests.
The people from Interstate Battery say they are willing to put up $1,000 to the person who gives up the information that leads to an arrest and conviction in this case.