Most of the suspects were employees of steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal in South Coatesville or related companies, District Attorney Tom Hogan announced on Wednesday.
The suspects were identified as: George Glassco (age 56), Dane K. Douglas (age 39), Corey Douglas (age 36), Aaron L. Anderson (age 36), Richard R. Cooper (age 54), Maurice Dennis (age 26), Jeffrey Shuler (age 55), and Marcus Pearce (age 25). Dane Douglas and Corey Douglas are brothers.
Investigators say the theft was uncovered when a security officer noticed Glassco putting nickel briquettes, which are used in the steel-making process, into a bucket and removing them.
The investigation allegedly revealed the conspirators participated in a scheme in which the nickel would be moved around inside the factory and then removed.
In one instance, investigators say, the suspects loaded so much nickel into a box truck that the wheels lifted off the ground.
Once out of the factory, the suspects would allegedly sell the nickel to a recycling plant in Philadelphia for $4 per pound, about half the market value.
"The most difficult crime to stop is an inside job. The conspirators knew exactly how to evade detection while carrying out their crimes. It was only because of the outstanding work by the Chester County Detectives and ArcelorMittal's own security team that the full scope of this crime was uncovered," Hogan said in a statement.
The thefts took place over a period of years, Hogan said, with a total of 110,704 pounds of nickel stolen from ArcelorMittal, causing a total loss of $911,093.92.