Timber theft is on the rise in Texas, with more than 20 occurring in the past four months in East Texas from Newton to Bowie Counties. Approximately one-third of the more than 200,000 family forest landowners in East Texas are absentee forest landowners. This, plus the rising price of timber makes property vulnerable and easily accessible to timber thieves. In these cases, the thief is often long gone by the time the crime is discovered. Landowners are advised to demand a bill of sale as Texas law requires that one is obtained from the seller. The bill of sale must include information such as the name of the landowner, seller and purchaser. It should also include a description or survey of the land and trees, and a warranty and signature from the seller.
To help property owners avoid timber theft tactics, the Texas A&M Forest Service advises:
Have someone you know and trust report any cutting on your land immediately.
Never sign a contract without checking several references of the buyer.
For the best price insist on getting bids for your timber.
Mark all property lines to assure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on yours.
If the landowner does not know the timber business, find someone to help determine volumes, current prices and potential bidders.
To report suspected timber theft activity call the Timber Theft Hotline 1-800-364-3470 or contact Texas A&M Forest Service at (936) 639-8100.