Timber thefts on the rise in Tennessee as prices increase
April 15, 2021 | 12:34 pm CDT

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture reports that rising lumber prices have caused an increase in timber thefts across the state.

The department is urging landowners to take steps to protect their property.

“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 department says landowners should mark their property boundaries and have a plan of action if they do not live on property or are out of town. That includes sharing with neighbors your name, contact information, and requesting they contact local law enforcement if they spot thieves harvesting from your property.

“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.”

"Whether the timber theft is intentional or accidental, it is a crime and can carry civil penalties of double or triple the current market value of the timber," the TDA wrote in a release.

Lumber prices have increased more than 180 percent since last spring, and this price spike has caused the price of an average new single-family home to increase by $24,386 since April 17, 2020, according to the NAHB standard estimates of lumber used to build the average home.

The NAHB and other associations have been urging the Biden Administration to intervene, saying the issue is critical.


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at robert.dalheim@woodworkingnetwork.com.