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Transient Meth Head Rakes In $95,000 By Stealing Copper to Support $100-a-Day Meth Habit
Phoenix New Times ^ | Thu., Aug. 4 2011 | James King

Posted on 08/12/2011 10:42:23 AM PDT by golux

Transient meth-head Kirk Wise probably made more money than you did last year -- and he didn't even have a job.

Wise, 45, is a professional copper thief who steals copper wire to support his $100-a-day meth habit. He's pretty good at it, too -- according to Wise, he's netted nearly $100,000 since January of 2010 by selling the copper to scrap-metal recycling businesses throughout the east Valley.

(...)

He admitted to everything -- he said he stole copper to support his meth habit and he'd netted $95,000 since last January. He told police he'd been stealing copper for three to four years, and has remained transient to make it harder for police to find him.

(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com ...


TOPICS: Free Republic; Miscellaneous; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: copper; drugs; economy; libertarian; meth; slavery; utopia
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Wow. a $100.00 a day stimulant habit. Lucky SOB, he gets to save almost half his income!
1 posted on 08/12/2011 10:42:29 AM PDT by golux
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To: golux

Am I wrong in thinking that scarp metal centers should be suspicious, and accountable, when transient drug addicts bring in $95,000 in copper?


2 posted on 08/12/2011 10:46:19 AM PDT by MrShoop
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To: golux

not sure if this is accurate, I mean sure meth heads are known for clear, thoughtful, honest answers but I just don’t know about the $$ claim


3 posted on 08/12/2011 10:52:33 AM PDT by NativeSon
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To: MrShoop

This A**hole better hope they put him in jail where he will be safe. That $100,000 in stolen raw copper equates into more like $5 million or more in economic damage and in repair costs for air conditioners, electrical transformers, wiring that gets stolen

These jerks are stealing $10,000 replacement cost air conditioners to sell $100 worth of scrap copper.

There are a lot of Phoenix home owners who have had to take a $10K hit for replacing their air conditioner in a bad economy who would love to get their hands on this guy.

This guy needs to go to jail for a long time


4 posted on 08/12/2011 10:56:19 AM PDT by rdcbn
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To: MrShoop

How do they know he’s a transient drug addict. Most of these recycling operations are cash based with very little paperwork. You bring in sort piles of stuff, they do a little work to make sure it is what you say it is, weigh it, give you money and a receipt. On some level they probably know that anybody showing up very often is probably not getting their stuff legally, but the reason recycling these metals is profitable is there’s a supply gap, they need what this guy’s got and they can’t “prove” it’s illegal, and more importantly nobody can prove they knew.


5 posted on 08/12/2011 10:59:57 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: golux

Shoot the damn bastard!


6 posted on 08/12/2011 11:00:00 AM PDT by AngelesCrestHighway
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To: AngelesCrestHighway
Shoot the damn bastard!

"You'll never take me alive, Copper!"

7 posted on 08/12/2011 11:00:35 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

Good one!.....


8 posted on 08/12/2011 11:01:38 AM PDT by AngelesCrestHighway
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To: discostu

It depends whether this case is an outlier, or if 90% of the people being in copper wire have stolen it. If the latter is true, which is what I’d guess, then these recycle centers are complicit in the crime, and basically are fencing stolen goods.


9 posted on 08/12/2011 11:05:00 AM PDT by MrShoop
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To: discostu

Not to diminish this guy’s crime but it sounds like he was bringing a huge amount of copper into the same recycling centers and they all were in the same area. And I’m sure the operators get suspicious if they see something that looks like copper pipe ripped out of a house on a regular basis, especially being brought in by a guy who looks like this. I bet they simply turned a blind eye.

And sadly this is not unusual. It happens over and over all over the country. And it isn’t just drug addicts doing it. There as a professional ring in my area doing it. That is what is really scary. Not just some drug addict out looking for an easy target but professionals who know what they are doing.


10 posted on 08/12/2011 11:08:01 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: golux

So let’s see. Admits to stealing copper. Check.

Which more than inconveniences a lot of people and gets them hopping mad.

Check.

Paper tells everyone that he’s a transient, with probably few, if any, people who care about him. Check.

And said paper publishes his photo. Check.

Sounds like he now has a future date with a very deep hole in the ground. Wonder if the paper thought about this before they published his photo and name.


11 posted on 08/12/2011 11:09:10 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: MrShoop

Now you’re using gun grabber logic. Even if no one has ever sold copper to a recycler that they got legally it’s not the recycler’s fault. Buying scrap metal for cash is a legitimate business, that scrap metal CAN be acquired legally, whether or not the seller DID is not the buyer’s job to determine.


12 posted on 08/12/2011 11:11:18 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

The operators are in a bad spot when all they have is suspicions. If they say “no we don’t think you’re getting this legally” then the guy is just going to go sell to their competition, and now the competition has more inventory to sell. Maybe if the recyclers worked like Vegas casinos and had a black book, but people would probably just accuse them of collusion then.

As things get tougher all over, even for the criminals, then the organized guys get into more trades that work closer to our homes.


13 posted on 08/12/2011 11:16:24 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: golux
In a related story

And we here in MI(outside of Detroit...where most of the problems reside)have been told our water rates are going up an additional 30%, on top of recent increases.

14 posted on 08/12/2011 11:27:57 AM PDT by RckyRaCoCo (I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery, IXNAY THE TSA!)
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To: discostu

How is there a gun grabber analogy? Fencing is illegal, and immoral. The better analogy here is the “liar loans” in the mortgage crisis. You had borrowers lying on their paperwork, and mortgage companies who knew they were lying and didn’t care. Both parties are culpable.


15 posted on 08/12/2011 11:40:11 AM PDT by MrShoop
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To: golux

The evil, straight conservatives forced him to do it with their WOD (war on drugs). [Little irony and sarcasm there.]


16 posted on 08/12/2011 11:44:48 AM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in a noisy avalanche of rotten politics smelled around the planet.)
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To: Opinionated Blowhard; All
Very likely he was stealing from one recycling center and selling to another as well.

He might have stolen and sold the same copper several times.

Not to suggest that this jerk shouldn't be forced to come up with some form of restitution. However, I doubt that his kidneys are worth anything.

17 posted on 08/12/2011 11:50:22 AM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: familyop; All
The evil, straight conservatives forced him to do it with their WOD (war on drugs). [Little irony and sarcasm there.]

I don't see the need for sarcasm. If his drugs were cheap, he likely would destroy himself with far less collateral damage to others.

18 posted on 08/12/2011 11:52:26 AM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: familyop
The evil, straight conservatives forced him to do it with their WOD (war on drugs). [Little irony and sarcasm there.]

Liberals love the WOD as well. I don't see any liberal initiatives to stop the WOD. Liberterians, yes. Liberal, no.

19 posted on 08/12/2011 11:59:34 AM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: rdcbn
That $100,000 in stolen raw copper equates into more like $5 million or more in economic damage and in repair costs

If we legalized meth, it would probably cost a LOT less than $100/day for this guy's habit.

In fact, the government should legalize meth and give it away for free.

Cheaper in the long run.

20 posted on 08/12/2011 12:09:12 PM PDT by Age of Reason
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To: MrShoop

Receiving stolen metal is how those yards make money. They know what they are doing. The could care less about anything other than getting caught.


21 posted on 08/12/2011 12:30:13 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: golux

There was a tweaker in my home town who was bright enough to take a manhole cover with a serial number and name of the city on it to the scrap yard and try to sell it. He was arrested. I say that because it is no guarantee with the scrap yards. If they think they can get away with it, many will buy (obviously) stolen property like new house wiring.


22 posted on 08/12/2011 12:36:37 PM PDT by IamConservative (Do peeps that drive Smart Cars on freeways have a death wish? If not, they better have spare undies.)
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To: Anti-Bubba182

The “recycling” centers DO have an obligation to not accept obviously stolen goods. How can you not be suspicious when someone comes in with 20 brass grave markers? These scrapyards should be prosecuted fully. Even pawn shops won’t take obviously stolen items. They know they’re in deep poop if they do. And “I didn’t know it was stolen” doesn’t hold water.


23 posted on 08/12/2011 12:39:14 PM PDT by boop ("Let's just say they'll be satisfied with LESS"... Ming the Merciless)
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To: boop
The dealers don't get checked much and the resort and process the scrap real quick so that would be very difficult. The book is rarely thrown at them.

As for the junkie, the worse the better.

24 posted on 08/12/2011 12:59:52 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: MrShoop

It’s the gungrabber argument because you’re blaming the non-criminals for the actions of criminals. According to gungrabbers all sales of guns are bad because some guns wind up in the hands of bad guys and the gun store doesn’t know which ones those are and can’t prevent it, and according to you recyclers are bad because some of the people they’re purchasing from have stolen the copper and the doesn’t know which ones and can’t prevent it.

The recyclers DON’T know who’s got their copper illegally. They can make some guesses, but they don’t know. Not until somebody gets busted.


25 posted on 08/12/2011 1:09:03 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: discostu

People that are involved in criminal enterprises always know what is going on, people living in the shady parts of life are not innocent, naive babes in the woods.

The recyclers can read their product and it’s origins and quality, and their suppliers.

Photo ID, good record keeping, license plate numbers, and an investigator to report to, and inspection of some of the yards, and revocation of business licenses would go a long way to stopping some of this.


26 posted on 08/12/2011 1:23:33 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: ansel12

The recyclers aren’t involved in a criminal enterprise. They’re buying a product that is readily available legally, and selling it legally. Sometimes the person they’re buying from didn’t get it legally, but that doesn’t make the recyclers criminals.


27 posted on 08/12/2011 1:27:08 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: discostu
Your analogy doesn't make sense. You are saying a seller isn't responsible for what he sells. I'm saying a seller is responsible for what he buys. Of course gun dealers check the serial numbers of guns when they buy them to see if they are stolen. Try getting caught with a stolen handgun and trying to get away with the excuse that you didn't know it was stolen.

I'm not blaming non-criminals for the action of criminals, I am saying these scrap yards are co-conspirators and criminals. It would just take a DA who gave a crap to prosecute. In California it would fall under section 496 of the penal code - receiving stolen property.

28 posted on 08/12/2011 1:27:56 PM PDT by MrShoop
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To: MrShoop

My analogy makes perfectly good sense. In both instances the wrong person is being blamed for things they did not do. You’re blaming the recycler for the fact that some but not all of the people they’re buying from are criminals and they have no way of differentiating.

You most certainly are blaming the non-criminals, and you just did it again. They are not co-conspirators or criminals, they’re people buying merchandise which is readily available legally and might, or might not, have been acquired by the seller illegally. If the law was the way you want it then everybody, including you, is a criminal, somewhere along the lines somebody gave you something that was not acquired legally at some point in its history. But you, just like the recyclers, have no way of knowing. If you want to throw them in jail lead by example, give yourself up.


29 posted on 08/12/2011 1:44:08 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: MrShoop
I am saying these scrap yards are co-conspirators and criminals. It would just take a DA who gave a crap to prosecute.

Not even an ambitious DA would waste his time and money trying to prove that a scrap dealer knowingly received "stolen scrap".

Reading the entire story would help explain to you how the guy was caught, and that was with the cooperation of the scrap dealer who still had the stolen wiring on hand and had the transaction receipt. And that was only because the copper wiring remained in the same length as it was when stolen which helped in identifying it..

You'll never get an arrest let alone a conviction of a scrap dealer who has absolutely no idea where his scrap comes from...........

30 posted on 08/12/2011 2:07:13 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Hot Tabasco
It isn't scrap if it is stolen from working machines. Or, for example try this google search:

statue stolen for scrap

31 posted on 08/12/2011 2:17:33 PM PDT by MrShoop
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To: Anti-Bubba182
Receiving stolen metal is how those yards make money.

Wrongo Mr. Bubba, these yards were in existence long before the economy made it attractive for the ghetto scrappers (that's where it started) to start stealing........

Ten years ago, maybe even sooner, you never read of copper thieves because the cost of copper then was insignificant and not worth the time and energy needed to steal it from abandoned houses or whatever sources they used..........Hell, they never even bothered to bend over and pick up a penny.

It's only been in recent years that copper thieves have surfaced, due entirely on the rising cost copper on a global basis.........

32 posted on 08/12/2011 2:22:17 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: discostu

They are engaged in a criminal enterprise, you seem to think that they don’t know what is going on and you don’t seem interested in fixing the problem but instead defending the fences.

Criminals have always had their connections to front their products to or to help them in their crimes, from shady pawnshops to shady hotels, to shady auto repair shops, to shady recyclers, and on and on.

The very first business that the criminal deals with to make his crime possible and profitable always knows the score.


33 posted on 08/12/2011 2:32:29 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: MrShoop
It isn't scrap if it is stolen from working machines.

I never said it was......but to the scrap dealer, it is.

What do you propose MrShoop? Require the scrap dealer to demand from the scrap seller that he document every piece of scrap that he is selling to the dealer? And how would he do that MrShoop? What kind of documentation would you require the scrap seller to have to insure that the scrap he is selling was legally acquired?

I have a personal friend who salvages scrap between trucking jobs. Would you prefer that he gets a state issued "scrap salvager" license issued from the state to insure that he can be tracked down should he be discovered to have sold some illegal scrap to a scrap dealer????

34 posted on 08/12/2011 2:33:07 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Hot Tabasco

I was dealing with copper thieves a lot longer than ten years ago.

Copper has always been profitable, I have been salvaging it and scrapping it since the early 1960s.


35 posted on 08/12/2011 2:35:33 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: MrShoop
My previous question to you MrShoop

Require the scrap dealer to demand from the scrap seller that he document every piece of scrap that he is selling to the dealer?

Lets see, my truck has 300 lbs. of rusted out steel farm equipment, 125 lbs. of old aluminum siding, another 125 lbs. of old iron railings, and 15 lbs. of copper tubing...........

So how much documentation would you require for that MrShoop?

36 posted on 08/12/2011 2:39:52 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Hot Tabasco

True enough about plain old copper pipe. But when the lowlifes are bringing in entire air conditioners with sawed off connectors, or historical artifacts, or graveside urns, they can’t plausibly say “I had NO idea it was stolen”.


37 posted on 08/12/2011 2:40:02 PM PDT by boop ("Let's just say they'll be satisfied with LESS"... Ming the Merciless)
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To: ansel12

They aren’t engaged in a criminal enterprise, I’m interested in defending the truth.

How does the recycler know which person is bringing legit copper and which one isn’t? These aren’t shady anything, these are normal scrap metal/ recyclers you can find in the phonebook.


38 posted on 08/12/2011 2:50:14 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: ansel12
I have been salvaging it and scrapping it since the early 1960s.

I'm sure you have but it's only been the recent years of widespread house abandonments and loss of jobs that has turned copper theft into such a widespread problem.......

So what's your answer to stopping the scrap metal theft? What kind of restrictions would you like to see imposed on the scrap yard owners?

39 posted on 08/12/2011 2:51:49 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: discostu
You say that they have no way of differentiating, I say a homeless meth addict with $95,000 of scrap metal is apparent enough to make you complicit. The law doesn't presuppose or excuse idiocy.

Since it is a fact that knowingly receiving stolen goods, then our only disagreement is whether these scrap dealers know they are receiving stolen goods. I think it is obvious.

40 posted on 08/12/2011 2:57:10 PM PDT by MrShoop
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To: Anti-Bubba182
The dealers don't get checked much and the resort and process the scrap real quick so that would be very difficult. The book is rarely thrown at them. As for the junkie, the worse the better.

Maybe in your neck of the woods.

I know someone who works at a private "recycling center". He is a retired state cop. They are pretty careful not to accept stolen goods. They don't need to. The owner has become quite wealthy without being a fence.

41 posted on 08/12/2011 3:04:53 PM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: golux

Wow... That was enough cash to provide meth to the meth addict for the rest of his short life.


42 posted on 08/12/2011 3:05:29 PM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: MrShoop

How are they supposed to know he’s a homeless meth addict? Ever been to a scrap metal buyer? The demographic isn’t people in suits driving beemers, everybody selling is a bit grungy if only from loading up the metal, and that is the demographic most likely to be hooked on drugs. The mug shot has him looking any old subsistence level person, your basic WalMart customer.

It isn’t obvious, that’s my point. You make a lot of assumptions after the fact, but out here in reality where things haven’t progressed to 20-20 hindsight things aren’t nearly as clear as you ass-u-me.


43 posted on 08/12/2011 3:07:44 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: boop
historical artifacts, or graveside urns, they can’t plausibly say “I had NO idea it was stolen”.

You're now bringing in a hypothetical argument here when there is no evidence this scrap yard ever dealt with "historical artifacts".

And furthermore, while there may be isolated instances of what you mentioned occuring, it is unlikely that the scrap metal industry is in the habit of purchasing such artifacts as scrap without notifying the proper authorities.

44 posted on 08/12/2011 3:10:07 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Hot Tabasco
It is a judgement call - if you looked homeless, and came in with a pile of copper in a shopping cart, the dealer should ask you where you got it, get your contact info, and either buy, send your away, or call the police depending on how sketchy the situation is. How much documentation? At a minimum your drivers license.

It is just preposterous to say that there is no legal, or moral obligation for a buyer of anything to know that what he obtaining is legal. Let me give an extreme to try and clarify:

A sweaty disheveled man runs into a pawn shop. He pulls a purse from under his shirt that has had its straps slashed. He rummages through and pulls out an iPhone with a pink case, holds it up and asks, "how much will you give me for the phone?" I know you wouldn't say that it is ok legally or morally to buy this phone.

You can look at this three ways - a buyer either has zero responsibility, some responsibility, or an absolute responsibility to make sure he is buying legally. You seem to be arguing for zero responsibility, I'm saying you have some responsibility. However, when you are in a high risk business, then your responsibility goes up. Sadly, scrap metal (especially in an urban area) is more and more a theft driven business.

45 posted on 08/12/2011 3:13:34 PM PDT by MrShoop
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To: dfwgator
"You'll never take me alive, Copper!"

My favorite line of the thread.

46 posted on 08/12/2011 3:14:01 PM PDT by denydenydeny (Rage all you want, looters & moochers, but the gods of the copybook headings are your masters now.)
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To: discostu

Scrap yards can read their materials and suppliers.

Back when it was legal to buy materials from them here, you could go to the scrap yards to buy perfect, used materials worth many times their scrap value, as a plumbing contractor I could recognize items of great value, it was pretty obvious that some stealing was taking place, and the yard employees would laughingly agree with you about it.


47 posted on 08/12/2011 3:28:02 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: MrShoop

You are exactly correct...the scrapyard owner knows the difference between a construction crew that comes in with the extras from a construction site and someone that just cut the insides out of some stolen AC units.


48 posted on 08/12/2011 3:28:46 PM PDT by willyd (your credibility deficit is screwing up my bs meter...)
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To: discostu
Maybe when his copper collection hit $95,000 (or $1000) it should have raised a question as to where he got it? Assumptions can make you an ass, but not making them can make you an idiot. Would you make an assumption about selling 5000 pounds of fertilizer to an arab in a u-haul? Make an incorrect assumption could make you an ass, but not making it....

What if I could show you that a majority of the scrap at some of these centers was stolen? What that sway you at all?

49 posted on 08/12/2011 3:36:57 PM PDT by MrShoop
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To: ansel12

Cute anecdote, but the plural of anecdote isn’t fact. They can’t know for sure who got the metal how, they aren’t criminal enterprises.


50 posted on 08/12/2011 3:39:44 PM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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