Arlington police say a group of thieves broke into roadside utility boxes used by cable companies and resold the batteries.
The utility boxes typically hold about 10 batteries that weigh about 75 pounds each. Recycling businesses pay up to $25 per pound for the batteries. Police say the thieves walked away with hundreds of dollars for each battery.
Police said the break-ins occurred in the middle of the day.
"The suspects were basically impersonating Time Warner Cable employees," Sgt. Kyle Dishko said. "They were wearing hard hats, yellow reflective vests, driving work trucks."
Police say the suspects were able to break into the utility boxes because they had a well-developed plan.
"They marketed themselves as employees of the company," Dishko said. "They knew what to say at the recycle businesses to get past all the state regulations."
More than 220 batteries were stolen from Arlington alone.
Time Warner Cable suffered nearly $1.5 million in damages stemming from the thefts.
"Those batteries are meant as a backup power source to Time Warner Cable customers that get power from those batteries to have 911 services," Dishko said.
If power goes out, the batteries serve as backup power so customers can still call 911 if needed.
"We were having some 911 services interrupted," Dishko said. "[The suspects] continued to get more sophisticated as they went. Their equipment got better. They changed their methods, and they got better at breaking into the boxes."
Police say the suspects did everything from monitor police radios to change recycling locations, making their crime harder to track as it spread into Dallas, Collin and Denton counties.
But Arlington police ultimately caught up to them with the help of other police departments in the region.
"We had used some pole cameras at different locations to take still photographs of the boxes," Dishko said. "We used some GPS tracking devices inside the batteries to trace them if they were stolen. We were able to get an alert and follow them wherever they were going."
Police have arrested Roland Booker, Karl Guy and Sheila Guy in connection with the thefts.
Arlington police are still searching for Kenneth Guy. Anyone with information about him is asked to contact police.