Transient Meth Head Rakes In $95,000 By Stealing Copper to Support $100-a-Day Meth Habit

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.

Wise wasn't that good, though -- he got popped yesterday after a three-month investigation into a string of copper thefts along the Paseo Trail in Chandler.

Police were first contacted in May about a significant amount of copper wire getting stolen from municipal outdoor lighting systems along the Paseo Trail.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, a detective started checking with local scrap yards to try and track the stolen wire.

The detective found what he believed to be some of the stolen wire at a scrap yard in mid May -- it was the same length as some of the wire stolen from the lighting units along the Paseo Trail.

Records kept by the scrap yard showed that the suspect wire was sold by Wise for $300. Police then tried to put him under surveillance. However, because he's a transient meth head, he was tough to track down.

Police finally located Wise in mid-July and began tracking him.

Authorities witnessed Wise commit three copper thefts in Gilbert, just north of the Paseo Trail in Chandler. After the third theft witnessed by police, on Monday, police took Wise into custody.

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.

Wise and an accomplice -- his 38-year-old girlfriend, Sanna Silver -- were each booked on several counts of aggravated criminal damage, theft, and trafficking stolen property.