A rash of East Texas timber thefts has Texas Forest Service investigators warning landowners to exercise caution.
Forest Service Chief Law Enforcement officer Les Rogers said disreputable loggers have been involved in 20 timber thefts during the past four months from Upshur, Cass and Harrison counties. Rogers said thieves are preying on trusting landowners, especially the elderly.
Rogers said landowners are being promised higher prices for timber and that crews would leave harvested lands in “pristine” condition when logging is complete. Instead, thieves clear valuable pine and hardwoods and leave debris and damage without paying landowners a dime, he said.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Rogers said.
Rogers recommended calling Forest Service offices for information and possible complaints about loggers or logging companies before allowing them on the property. He said a simple Google search of the operators’ names could reveal valuable information about reputable loggers or those with criminal backgrounds.
Timber thefts in the past typically occurred on properties owned by “absentee landowners,” individuals who lived and spent most of their time away, Rogers said. Thieves would harvest the land and be gone before landowners became aware of the crime, he said.
Texas landowners received $210.3 million in revenue from timber sales in 2011. Timber was the ninth most valuable agriculture commodity in the state that year.