Skip to comments.Transient Meth Head Rakes In $95,000 By Stealing Copper to Support $100-a-Day Meth Habit
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 ...
Am I wrong in thinking that scarp metal centers should be suspicious, and accountable, when transient drug addicts bring in $95,000 in copper?
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
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
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.
Shoot the damn bastard!
"You'll never take me alive, Copper!"
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.
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.
So let’s see. Admits to stealing copper. Check.
Which more than inconveniences a lot of people and gets them hopping mad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The evil, straight conservatives forced him to do it with their WOD (war on drugs). [Little irony and sarcasm there.]
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.
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.
Liberals love the WOD as well. I don't see any liberal initiatives to stop the WOD. Liberterians, yes. Liberal, no.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As for the junkie, the worse the better.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...........
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.........
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.
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????
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.
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?
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”.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Wow... That was enough cash to provide meth to the meth addict for the rest of his short life.
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.
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.
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.
My favorite line of the thread.
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.
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.
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?
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.