Timber thefts being reported across Tenn. due to increase in prices amid pandemic

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 00:00:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increase in timber and lumber prices and because of that, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) says there's been an increase in timber thefts across the state.

In a press release, TDA officials urged forest landowners to be aware of timber thefts.

“Timber theft can be financially devastating to a landowner,” State Forester David Arnold said. “The value of the timber is not the only loss. In most cases, the thieves damage property and negatively impact conservation efforts and wildlife. We want Tennessee landowners to know what they can do to help protect their property against theft or accidental harvest.”

The TDA said owners can take the following steps to protect their property:

  • Make sure to have well-marked property boundaries
  • Have a plan of action for your property - if you do not live on the property or if you plan to be away for an extended period. Your plan should include your name, how to contact you, and how to contact local law enforcement.
  • Share your plan with neighbors so they can reach you if they see harvesting on your land.
  • Have a current inventory of timber with an estimated value should a theft occur

“We’ve had reports of oak trees, poplar, and some hickory stolen in Middle and East Tennessee,” Agricultural Crime Unit Special Agent LaLonna Kuehn said. “One of the best ways to prevent this crime is to let your neighbors know if you will be removing timber from your property. If they haven’t heard from you and see harvesting, they should contact you or law enforcement immediately.”

The Division of Forestry maintains a directory of private consulting foresters who specialize in timber inventory and in damage and trespass assessments here.