Suspected Timber Trespass or Timber Theft

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is authorized to investigate suspected cases of timber theft and offer assistance with timber trespass disputes.

Timber theft can occur with or without a timber sale agreement. The Code of Virginia requires payment in full as specified in a written timber sale contract or within 60 days of removal if no written contract exists. The law applies equally to lump sum as well as pay-as-cut sales. Failure of the buyer to remit payment in full as specified above constitutes timber theft. If timber is sold on a pay-as-cut basis, the buyer must provide upon request, a true and accurate accounting of each load removed from the property. This can be load tickets or settlement statements provided to the timber buyer by the receiving facility. The supporting load tickets or settlement statements must be provided to the requesting party within 30 days of the request or within 30 days of the removal of the timber from the property whichever is later. For full details, view the  Code of Virginia §55.1-2838, §55.1-2839, and §55.1-2840.

Timber trespass often involves disputed or poorly-marked boundary lines. To protect yourself against possible timber trespass, it is a good practice to clearly mark your boundary lines and communicate with neighboring landowners. Trespass is most often an accidental occurrence and reputable timber buyers will rectify the mistake in short order.

The Virginia Department of Forestry is not authorized to provide volume or value estimates on timber or survey property lines. We can provide a list of private consulting foresters who provide volume and value estimation as a service. For property line marking and location you will need the assistance of a licensed surveyor. For full details and laws pertaining to timber trespass and recoverable damages, view the Code of Virginia §55.1-2835, §55.1-2836, and §55.1-2837.


Get assistance with suspected timber trespass or timber theft on your property.

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Additional Resources

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Timber Theft in VirginiaCNRE-117P

Publication by Virginia Cooperative Extension address timber theft in Virginia. Woodlands provide recreational opportunities, ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat and clean water, and can be an important source of income. Many landowners take careful steps to ensure that their property is managed to maximize these benefits. However, all of this work can be easily eradicated by one of Virginia’s most dreaded forest pests: timber thieves.

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For assistance with suspected timber trespass or timber theft, contact your local VDOF staff.