Stealing Timber and Timber Theft

Timber sales are often once-in-a-lifetime transactions; they should be accomplished through contracts and sealed bids, with the input of a reputable professional forester.

Timber theft is a problem that can take place in different ways:

  • Absentee landowners. These landowners aren't around to protect their property. In these cases, the thief is often long gone by the time the crime is discovered.
  • First offer or Verbal Agreement. Competitive bidding helps the landowner receive the best price for the timber. Use a written agreement to avoid misunderstandings. Avoid selling timber to the first offer or with a verbal agreement.
    • Yard trees are not highly valued for timber.
  • Selling timber "on shares," in which the landowner is paid a percentage of what the logger is paid when he sells the logs. Logs can be sold at more than one location and the landowner only sees the payment from one buyer.
  • Timber buying contracts. In these situations, the landowner is asked to sign a contract and the logger cuts timber. However, the contract is never fulfilled by the buyer and the landowner never gets paid.

To avoid timber theft tactics, a property owner should:

  • Have someone you know and trust immediately report any cutting on your land.
  • Check references of the buyer before signing a contract.
  • Get bids for the best price for your timber.
  • Mark all property lines to ensure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on yours.
  • Find someone to help you determine volumes, current prices and potential bidders if you do not know the timber business.

If timber theft has occurred, a property owner should:

  • Call the local sheriff and report the theft.
    • You will need a stump cruise to determine the value of the missing trees.
      • Note that yard trees are not highly valued for timber.

Read Virginia Tech's Dealing with Timber Theft.

Last modified: Thursday, 06-Nov-2014 10:33:24 EST